RIP Margaret Mahy
2 August 2012, 5:48 PM
I think, perhaps, that Margaret Mahy is one of the children’s book writers who, for whatever reason, don’t get their names associated with their books. It’s not that kids don’t love her stuff, it’s that they don’t think of her stuff as Margaret Mahy books, to be found under M. Is this because she doesn’t illustrate it herself? So The Boy Who Was Followed Home doesn’t look like The Three-Legged Cat which doesn’t look like The Witch in the Cherry Tree which doesn’t look like The Rattlebang Picnic which doesn’t look like The Horrendous Hullaballoo. None of which look like Seventeen Kings and Forty-Two Elephants. They sound similar, in a bunch of ways, but not necessarily in ways that the average picture-book reader (or read-to-er) would recognize. So a kid could love all of those, or The Great White Man-Eating Shark, or Keeping House, or The Queen’s Goat or any of the other marvelous books without thinking about them as Margaret Mahy books. Not the way that people think of Dr. Seuss books or Maurice Sendak books or Eric Carle books.
Or maybe Ms. Mahy really isn’t very popular here. It looks as if many, if not most of her books for older kids are not (easily) available here. And just because Your Humble Blogger loves a thing does not mean that the thing is widely beloved. But that would be crazy in this case—Margaret Mahy’s books are wonderful, wonderful things. That is true, by the way, of the picture books and also of the books for older kids; she was one of very few writers who wrote chapter books, middle-grades and young adult, all extraordinarily well, in addition to the picture books.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,