Dorothy Neal White
Newsletter 37
April 2007

Number 37 April 2007

Annual General Meeting 2007

Image of poster for AGMThe Annual General Meeting of the Friends will be held as usual in the National Library lower ground floor Conference Room on Tuesday 15 May 2007. We will meet for preliminary drinks and nibbles from 5.30pm and the AGM will follow at 6pm.

All the current committee members are happy to remain on the committee for 2007-2008. If any other members would like to join this enthusiastic group please contact Emma MacDonald or phone 917 2900 (day).

The 2006-2007 Committee:

Patron: Margaret Mahy

President: Emma MacDonald

Treasurer: Trevor Mowbray

Correspondence Secretary: Barbara Robertson

Notetaker: Lynne Jackett

Newsletter: Joan McCracken

Committee: Tania Connelly, Audrey Cooper, Alison Grant, Mary Hutton.

Copies of the full minutes of the 2006 AGM are enclosed and are also available on the website

It is also time for subscriptions to be renewed. The 2006 Annual General Meeting agreed to hold the subscription rate at $20 a year. A copy of the membership form is on the last page of this newsletter. You may also like to make a contribution to the Scholarship fund so we can continue and / or increase the amount we are able to offer a student doing research based on the DNW Collection. A separate line has been included on the form for those Friends who would like to make such a donation. We will be very happy to accept your payment at the AGM, or post it to the address given on the form.

The meeting will be just the beginning of what promises to be a very special occasion and details of the rest of the evening’s activities can be found on page 2 and on the enclosed flyer.

We really hope there will be a big crowd – so do bring your friends!


To follow the AGM we are very fortunate to have Peter Ireland, the manager of National Library Gallery and the curator of the new exhibition A to Z: an illustrated alphabet’, give us a special tour of the show.

The exhibition aims to give visitors an experience in the gentle art of looking at nice things and stopping to consider the art and meaning of the letters of the alphabet. The collections of the National Library hold many examples of A to Z books, those seemingly simple publications used as aids to learning about the world. Several of the exhibits have come from the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collections. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a wall frieze illustrating 28 letters of the alphabet, the number expanded by the addition of ‘ng’ and ‘wh’ to acknowledge the Maori language.

Other exhibition highlights include:

a2zOne of the oldest items in the Alexander Turnbull Library – a gypsum slab with a cuneiform inscription dating from 879BC. The inscription tells of the achievements of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II and describes his palaces

The A to Z book The Inhabitants of the World: alphabetically arranged, published in New York in 1818, which includes ‘Z for Zealander’, taking the form of a Maori warrior

O is for Owl – an illustration of a barn owl by George Raper dated between 1788 and 1790

V is for VC and Bar – using the classic photograph of Charles Upham (VC & bar) from the cover of the book Mark of the Lion

Classic publications of the 20th century by William Nicholson, Dick King-Smith and Quentin Blake, Anno Mitsumasa and others.

Also in the Gallery is A nest of singing birds, an exhibition to celebrate 100 years of the New Zealand School Journal.


At the time of preparation of this newsletter we have not been notified of any applicants for this year’s FDNW Scholarship. This is disappointing and we are looking at ways of better promoting the award. If any Friends have suggestions for how we might attract students to the Scholarship – or indeed know of anyone who is eligible who hasn’t applied – I would love to hear from them. Please give me a call on 474 3056 (day) or email

The Scholarship will be awarded to a student enrolled in a Masters or PhD programme at Victoria University who intends to undertake research that will make use of the Dorothy Neal White Collection. The award will be made on the basis of academic merit and the suitability of the proposed research topic.

A fuller report will be given at the AGM.


Congratulations to long time FDNW member Barbara Murison who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children’s literature in the New Year Honours List 2007.

Barbara Murison (centre) with Lynne Jackett and Alison Grant at a lunch held at the home of Janet McFadden to celebrate Barbara’s NZOM, January 2007 Photographer: Joan McCracken
Barbara Murison (centre) with Lynne Jackett and Alison Grant at a lunch held at the home of Janet McFadden to celebrate Barbara’s NZOM, January 2007
Photographer: Joan McCracken

In an interview with Kate Bleasdale in The Norwester (23 January 2007) Barbara is quoted as saying, “It’s a very special thing to get and really great for children’s literature, it does enhance the importance of it”. It is wonderful to have both Barbara and books for children recognised in this way.

Barbara’s career in children’s literature began in 1950 when she worked sorting books for the School Library Service in “dank, dark little rooms” under Parliament. Later she became children’s librarian at Wellington Public Library. In 1965 she opened the Mercury Bookshop but returned to library work in 1971. In 1979 she became a primary school advisor with the School Library Service – a role she continued until her retirement from the National Library.

However it was not a retirement from work with books for children. Barbara wanted to continue her relationship with school libraries and conceived the idea of Around the bookshops, a quarterly buying and sometimes ‘borrowing’ guide for schools, public libraries, booksellers, and anyone who is interested in quality and up to date children’s books and resources. Through her Marigold Enterprises Barbara also offers a manuscript assessment service. More information can be found on her website

In 2002 Storylines: The Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand presented Barbara with the Betty Gilderdale Award for services to New Zealand children’s literature. She received a Certificate of Recognition from SLANZA (School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) in 2004. It was “awarded for her innovation and contribution, over more than fifty years, to the development of quality resources and expertise in libraries for children and young people”.

We look forward to sharing Barbara’s knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, children’s literature for many years to come.

Joan McCracken, Newsletter editor


Image of cover of The Boy's Own Annual

At the Friends end-of-the-year event in November 2006 FDNW Scholarship holder Andrew Francis gave a very entertaining presentation ‘Making Britons of Them’ British and Imperial Juvenile Literature, 1905-1914. This chapter from his thesis draws significantly on the work he has done using the Dorothy Neal White Collection.

Andrew explored the role of stories for young people, especially boys, in preparing them to defend the Empire. Publishers, and the authors they contracted to supply stories, expressed concern about the future of the Empire, and the threat posed by an increasingly hostile Germany.

Nearly all juvenile literature available prior to the Great War was published in Britain, with editions specifically for the Dominions of New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Boys’ papers provided a further link with the Mother Country, and those aimed at readers in the Dominions intended to ‘make Britons of them’.

Andrew showed how between the end of the Boer War in 1902 and the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, publishers of papers such as Boy’s Own Paper, Chums, and Boy’s Friend Library began to reflect changes in political, social and cultural attitudes. The British Empire was presented as undergoing constant challenges to its supremacy, and Germany as the source of this undeserved provocation. German characters in stories were portrayed as humourless, militaristic, and bullying, in direct contrast to Britons around the world who were viewed as honourable, just and fair.

Titles such as New Zealand Boy’s Annual, Australian Boy’s Annual and Empire Annual for Boys contained many of the same stories and authors prevalent in British magazines. Andrew explored the work of several well-known authors (including Henty and Kipling), and the significant influence of Lord Northcliffe and his Amalgamated Press in shaping attitudes.

Andrew concluded: “Their ability to respond immediately to a deteriorating European situation meant that boys’ story papers were a useful tool in informing and preparing young minds for future conflict. Likewise, their increasingly negative portrayal of foreigners (in particular Germans) provides a unique source in understanding the speed with which society mobilised against Germany in August 1914.”

We are delighted to announce that Andrew has agreed that the Society can publish an expanded version of his talk. ‘Willingly to War’: British and imperial boys’ story papers, 1905-1914 is now in preparation and will be published as Notes-Books-Authors 10 later this year.

Joan McCracken, Newsletter editor


The Storylines Free Family Fun Day will this year be held in the Wellington Town Hall on Saturday 9 June 2007 from 10am to 3pm. Australian author / illustrator Shaun Tan & UK writer Mal Peet are the special guests at the Heritage Hotels seminar “Story is a place” to be held the previous evening. Tickets for the seminar are on sale from The Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie, Wellington.


I am a ‘Friend’ of the Dorothy Neal White Collection because of someone I can’t really claim to have known. It was soon after my story Mr Krenko’s Wednesday Visitor was published 1972 that I began to get messages from a mysterious librarian in Dunedin, who had an outlandish string of names, and a somewhat peremptory mode of address. I was a student in Christchurch, and the messages were relayed to me by my brother in law, a librarian at the University of Otago.

“Dorothy says your book was rather good!” “Dorothy says to ask you when is the next one coming!” Dorothy says to tell you to get on with it!”

At first I found the messages amusing, and a little off-putting, but after I had received a few, I began to appreciate the interest and support. I always meant to write back to say as much, but as it happened, I never did. By the time I went to live in Dunedin in the 1990s, the opportunity had gone. Dorothy died not long after my arrival. I went to her funeral and watched as her coffin was carried away. It was the closest we ever got to a meeting.

When I enrolled in the Masters in Library and Information Studies programme in 2000, I was given a course outline with notes about the papers and a list of scholarships that were available to students. As soon as I read about the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection award, I knew that Dorothy expected me to apply.

Minister for the National Library Marian Hobbs with scholarship winner Tania Connolly

Minister for the National Library Marian Hobbs with scholarship winner Tania Connolly and DNW research librarian Lynne Jackett at the function at the National Library, 27 November 2001. Trevor Mowbray just gets into the picture at the back!

Photographer: Joan McCracken

The research I did for my thesis in the Dorothy Neal White Collection was huge fun and as a consequence I joined the society and went on the committee, so as to prolong the enjoyment. At least that is part of the story. It is also true to say that because of the Dorothy thing, I never felt that I could do anything else.

Tania Connelly

FDNW Committee Member




By the time you read this, the display featuring books illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, will have been replaced. The cabinet (inside the doors to the ground floor reading room) will now feature One to 10 and back again, a display of counting books. This theme was chosen to link in with the new National Library Gallery exhibitions – A nest of singing birds, a celebration of a century of the School Journal; and A to Z: an illustrated alphabet. Resources in these exhibitions include books from both the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collections.

The Ardizzone display was mentioned on Saturday Morning with Kim Hill. Kate de Goldi and Kim had been discussing Ardizzone, so I emailed them to let them know that most of the books they had discussed could be viewed in the National Library reading room.



Since the last Newsletter I have talked to several groups, including a presentation to the RISE Seminar, organised by Wellington City Libraries. RISE was a professional development seminar for staff working with children and youth in New Zealand libraries, including library students and teachers. Delegates spent two days at the Hotel Intercontinental in Wellington being Refreshed and Inspired by our Stimulating and Enthusiastic speakers. My role was to stimulate the audience. I showed them some of the picture books recently acquired for the NCC, which they found interesting, but then set them abuzz with a demonstration of the International Children’s Digital Library web site There are now over 1600 books in the ICDL in 38 languages – with 48 coming from the National Library of New Zealand. Pictured on the right is the cover of A southern cross fairy tale by Kate McCosh Clark, with illustrations by Robert Atkinson (London: 1891) one of the books from the DNW Collection digitised for the ICDL.


Highlights among the visitors to the collections were:

Cathy Yetter and 15 students from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, USA. In January 2005, Cathy brought a group in, unannounced. This time we had planned ahead for the visit, and the students all listened to a brief talk about the collections, then spent 2 hours locating books by, and information about, their chosen author, reading and making notes. Cathy has a blog and the entry for Thursday 18th January reads:

Submitted by Cathleen Yetter on Wed, 2007-01-17 19:38

New Zealand’s National Library

Today we visited the National Library to learn more about NZ children’s literature. Lynne Jacket, who has been working with the collections for 30 years, gave us a fascinating history of the collections and then helped us find all the books of authors that we will study in depth for our final project. Lynne’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the authors, both biographical and literary output was invaluable. We were able to consult handwritten reviews of all materials added to the collection until 1992 and also tap into the online Oceania reviews called The Source.

More recently, I briefly hosted three former staff from National Library Hamilton, who had worked there when it was a base for both the Country and School Library Services. They were delighted to be reunited with the School Library Service Head Office Collection (now the National Children’s Collection). [Editor’s note: readers might also be interested to know that in March there was a reunion of some former staff who worked at School Library Service and Country Library Service, Hamilton. It was great fun catching up with former colleagues and visiting the sites where the Services were based.

Research enquiries

Highlights among the recent reference inquiries have included:

Someone seeking information about a book by Mrs George Cupples – this request came via the Friends’ web site

A request on behalf of an American: “trying to discover a book he remembers fondly from his youth in the 1960s, and is one of the reasons that he is visiting NZ now” and with no recall of author and title. Clues: it was set in a boarding school near the coast in the South Island, the hero chose to go to the MacKenzie country instead of overseas to university and there was some romance involved.” The book was Windy Island by T H Harper. I also found there were 78 copies for sale via

Another request was from a retired colleague, seeking the rest of the verse that she recalled from her 1940s Lower Hutt childhood, that began “Ladies and gentlemen, bugs and fleas …”. It is one of the many variants of a “ballad of impossibilities” composed of tangle-worded couplets and known around the English-speaking world. Early in my research, when I was stumped, I asked “Everyone” at the National Library if they recalled this version. No-one came up with an exact match, but there were numerous responses that helped. Afterwards, staff from various business units thanked me for brightening their weeks, and asked me to involve them in the search if I was stumped again.

Lynne Jackett
Research Librarian, Dorothy Neal White & National Children’s Collections


New on the FDNW website:

All our newsletters from April 2001
[since extended to 1998]

A copy of an item on Alan MacDiarmid and The boy chemist that Lynne Jackett wrote for the National Library’s weekly staff newsletter to mark his death on 8 February 2007

Updated notes on the collections supported by the Friends

Suggestions and contributions to the site are welcomed by webmaster Jeff Hunt -phone 04 479 6123 or email or contact him through the website




The 2006 Annual General Meeting agreed to hold the subscription rate at $20 a year. Members might also like to make a contribution to a special Scholarship fund that will allow us to continue and / or increase the amount we are able to offer a student at Victoria University doing research based on the DNW Collection. A separate line has been included on the form for those Friends who would like to make such a donation.

The Treasurer will be delighted to receive your subscription payment at the next meeting, or by post to:

The Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection

PO Box 12499


Please indicate any changes to your address details when you complete the form. We are now able to send notification of meetings by email. If you would like to receive information in this way please include your email address.

I would like to join / renew my subscription to the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection.

My cheque / cash for $20.00 is enclosed

My donation of $ to the DNW Scholarship Fund is enclosed




Email address:

About us


RECENT BOOK AWARDSThe Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture AwardThe Margaret Mahy Medal Award is presented to a person who has made an especially significant contribution to children’s literature, publishing or literacy, and honours New Zealand’s leading author for children. Margaret Mahy presented the inaugural lecture in 1991.

image of Ken Catran
Ken Catran,


Ken Catran, writer of nearly 30 acclaimed novels for children and young adults, is the 2007 winner of the New Zealand’s most prestigious award for children’s writers, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal. ‘Ken Catran, known to young readers throughout New Zealand and Australia, joins a stellar list of Margaret Mahy Medal winners since 1991,’ says Trust chairperson, Dr Libby Limbrick. ‘We are delighted that this major award coincides with his taking up his appointment as the University of Waikato’s 2007 writer in residence.’

Ken Catran’s literary career began more than 30 years ago as a writer of screenplays, including a number of successful television drama series, including Under the Mountain, Children of the Dog Star, Deepwater Black, Steel Riders and the 1993 movie version of Tessa Duder’s Alex. In the early 90s, he switched to writing fiction, beginning a career as one of the most prolific and versatile novelists in New Zealand, with a particular interest in the impact of technology on human societies. Among his science fiction works are the Deepwater trilogy, The Solar Colonies series and Tomorrow the Dark, while historical novels have included retellings from Greek mythology and history Golden Prince, Voyage of Jason and Black Ships Ablaze.

Recently he has explored the impact of war on individuals and families in the Moran books: Jacko Moran: Sniper, Robert Moran: Private, Jimmy Moran: Regular and the upcoming Tessa Moran: Soldier. Books for younger readers include Something Weird About Mr Foster, More Weird Stuff About Mr Foster and Artists are Crazy and Other Stories.

His awards include the 2001 New Zealand Post Book of the Year and Senior Fiction awards for Voyage with Jason and the 2004 Esther Glen Medal for Jacko Moran: Sniper. Other novels have regularly appeared in New Zealand Post and Esther Glen shortlists and on every Storylines Notable Books list since their inception in 2000.

Information from the Storylines website
The Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book


Instituted in 1998, the Gaelyn Gordon Award commemorates the life and works of Gaelyn Gordon (1939-1997), and honours a book by a New Zealand author that has proved itself a long-standing favourite with New Zealand children, yet not won a major award. The 2007 recipient is Fleur Beale of Wellington with her first novel for children, Slide the Corner (Scholastic NZ, 1993).

Information from the Storylines website


Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand has announced its list of Notable New Zealand Books 2007. Ten books in four categories have been selected, from the more than 150 books published during 2006. Storylines’ first Notable Books list was in 2000, containing 40 notable books published in 1999. The list reflects the wide-ranging achievements of New Zealand authors and illustrators. It appears in February each year.

Picture books

Books for children and/or young adults where the narrative is carried equally by pictures and story.

Share Said the Rooster by Pamela Allen. (Viking)

A Present from the Past by Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Lindy Fisher. (Scholastic New Zealand)

Riding the Waves: Four Māori Myths by Gavin Bishop. [Also available in Te Reo: Whakaeke i ngā Ngaru: e Whā Tino Pūrākau translated by Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira]. (Random House New Zealand)

Greedy Cat and the Sneeze by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Robyn Belton. (Scholastic New Zealand)

Billy by Kate De Goldi, illustrated by Jacqui Colley. [A Lolly Leopold Story.] (Trapeze)

Itiiti’s Gift by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Fifi Colston. (Reed)

The Three Fishing Brothers Gruff by Ben Galbraith. (Hodder Children’s Books)

Matatuhi by Robyn Kahukiwa. [Also available in Te Reo: Matatuhi translated by Kiwa Hammond.] (Puffin)

Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ali Teo & John O’Reilly. (Scholastic New Zealand)

Barnaby Bennett by Hannah Rainforth, illustrated by Ali Teo. (Huia Publishers)


The judging panel would like to make special mention of Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (Frances Lincoln). Margaret’s poem has been in print in a poetry collection for many years and therefore not eligible for inclusion in the list. However, the panel considers Down the Back of the Chair to be a treasure for New Zealand children.

Junior fiction

Fiction suitable for primary and intermediate-age children.


And Did Those Feet… by Ted Dawe. (Longacre Press)

Boyznbikes by Vince Ford. (Scholastic New Zealand.)

Ocean Without End: Book One of the Swashbuckler Trilogy by Kelly Gardiner. (HarperCollins)

Frog Whistle Mine by Des Hunt. (HarperCollins)

Thor’s Tale: Endurance and Adventure in the Southern Ocean by Janice Marriott. (HarperCollins)

The Unquiet by Carolyn McCurdie. (Longacre Press)

Mind Over Matter by Heather McQuillan. (Scholastic New Zealand)

Old Bones by Bill Nagelkerke. (Scholastic New Zealand)

Castaway: the Diary of Samuel Abraham Clark, Disappointment Island, 1907 by Bill O’Brien [My Story series]. (Scholastic New Zealand)

The Whizbanger that Emmental Built by Reuben Schwarz. (Puffin)

Young adult fiction

Fiction suitable for upper intermediate and secondary school students.


A Respectable Girl by Fleur Beale. (Random House New Zealand)

Spirit of the Deep by Margaret Beames. (Lothian)

Genesis by Bernard Beckett. (Longacre Press)

Paperchase by G. Brassi. (Scholastic New Zealand)

Red Leader Down by Ken Catran. (Random House New Zealand)

Aim High by David Hill. (Mallinson Rendel Publishers)

Shooting the Moon by V.M. Jones. (HarperCollFace It by Denis Martin. (Puffin)

Single Fin by Aaron Topp. (Random House New Zealand)

Thieves: a novel by Ella West. (Longacre Press)


For authoritative, well-designed information books accessible to children and young adults.

<img>Red Haze: Australians and New Zealanders in Vietnam by Leon Davidson. (Black Dog Books)

Bird’s-Eye View: Through the Eyes of New Zealand Birds by Maria Gill, photographs by Darryl Torckler and Geoff Moon. Penguin.

Flamingo Bendalingo: Poems from the Zoo by Paula Green and fifty children, illustrated by Michael Hight. Auckland University Press.


Celebrating Matariki by Libby Hakaraia. Reed.

It’s True! You Can Make Your Own Jokes by Sharon Holt, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird. Allen & Unwin.

Soldier in the Yellow Socks: Charles Upham – Our Finest Fighting Soldier by Janice Marriott, illustrated by Bruce Potter. HarperCollins Publishers.

What is on Top? by John Parker, photographs by Glenn Jowitt. [Also available in Te Reo: He aha kei Runga? translated by Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira.] Scholastic New Zealand.

Winging It: The Adventures of Tim Wallis by Neville Peat. Longacre Press.

The Illustrated History of the South Pacific by Marcia Stenson. Random House New Zealand.

Fighting Past Each Other: The New Zealand Wars 1845-1875 by Matthew Wright, illustrated by Suzy Brown. Reed.

Eligibility criteria

Entries are open to books first published in New Zealand between 1 January and 31 December each year.

Authors and illustrators must be New Zealanders by birth, naturalisation or immigration, who have been New Zealand residents for 2 years.

Books entered for the awards must be single, stand-alone entries and must contain at least 16 pages of text and/or illustration.

Textbooks, resource kits, and books supplied free to centres of learning are not eligible.

Books must be available for trade sales.

Reprints and reissues from previous years are not eligible unless they are new editions that contain substantial revision (adding significant new content and interpretation).

Anthologies of work by three or more authors are eligible.

Where a book with an attachment (e.g. CD) is submitted, the book will be considered the primary vehicle to be judged.

Books written or illustrated by a New Zealander, but with illustrations/text by an overseas illustrator/author will be considered for the creative input of the New Zealander.

The judging panel

The Notable Books List is selected by a panel of 20, made up from the Storylines community, of current children’s literature professionals. These include past and present members of the Storylines management committee, all of whom have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of children’s literature and many have served as judges for the New Zealand Post Book Awards (and its previous incarnations) and the LIANZA children’s book awards. The panel meets regularly throughout the year to discuss recently published books, culminating in a meeting the night of the New Zealand Post Book Awards shortlist announcement.

For further information about the Storylines organisation or the Notable Books List see



Theodore Taylor, 85, Children’s Novelist

By Stephen Miller, Staff Reporter of the Sun, October 30, 2006

Theodore Taylor, who died Thursday [26 October 2006] at 85, was a prolific author of children’s books, including The Cay, a dramatic tale of interracial understanding that became required reading in schools in dozens of states.

Mining a wealth of experience from a career that included stints as a journalist, a Hollywood screenwriter and publicist, and a steamship public information officer, Taylor wrote books — both fiction and non-fiction — about nuclear weapons, the Arctic, famous naval battles, and Revolutionary War history.

“Lacking a good imagination, certainly unable to write science fiction, I must rely on personal experience, research and real characters to deliver my stories,” he told the Virginian-Pilot of Norwalk, Virginia, in 2005.


The Cay (1969) tells the story of an 11-year-old white boy and an elderly black sailor who are marooned together on a Caribbean desert island during World War II after their ship is torpedoed by a German submarine. The boy loses first his eyesight and then his racist attitudes, and the sailor eventually gives his life to save the boy. The book was instantly popular and eventually sold more than 4 million copies while becoming widely assigned classroom reading. It also served as a lightning rod for the culture wars of the 1970s, with critics saying the sailor was a superstitious, subservient stereotype who spoke in comical Creole dialect. In 1975, Taylor was asked to return the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. He complied, but insisted that The Cay was “a subtle plea for better race relations and more understanding.” The book is still in print.

Taylor said he got the idea for the story from a news item about a boy in a life raft who disappeared after his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. The sailor he based on an actual person. “Would the critics have had him speak Brooklynese instead of Creole?” Taylor thundered. “Nonsense.”

Also based on Taylor’s actual experiences was The Bomb (1995), a novel about the inhabitants of the Bikini Atoll, who were displaced by American nuclear tests in 1946. Taylor, who served as a lieutenant in the Merchant Marine during World War II, had been a member of Operation Crossroads, the Navy’s bomb testing operation.

Taylor was born in rural North Carolina. His family was poor, and he spent lots of time outdoors, sometimes fishing with his father at the Hatteras Banks, a location that would become the backdrop to his “Cape Hatteras Trilogy” of novels for young adults (1974-77). He got his first job at age 13, writing a column on high school sports for the local newspaper for 50 cents a week. After leaving high school, Taylor took various sports writing jobs and ended up as a scriptwriter for the sportscaster Bill Stern. After serving in the Merchant Marine and then in the Navy during the Korean War, Taylor produced The Magnificent Mitscher (1954), the biography of a World War II aircraft carrier group commander. He wrote several more nonfiction books for adults, including The Amazing World of Kreskin (1973), Jule: The Story of Composer Jule Styne (1978), and The Cats of Shambala (1985), written with the actress Tippi Hedren.

Taylor also worked occasionally as a television screenwriter and is listed as a production coordinator for the film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), an experience he described as “draining and disastrous.” In 2003, his children’s novel The Maldonado Miracle was filmed for Showtime, starring Peter Fonda and directed by Salma Hayek.

But it was as a children’s author, after 1969, that he found his true métier, and here he was prolific, writing nearly three dozen fiction and nonfiction titles. The Cay was made into a 1974 TV film starring James Earl Jones. Taylor later wrote what he called a “prequel-sequel” that followed the boy’s life before and after his encounter with the sailor. Timothy of the Cay (1993) was well received; Publishers Weekly called it “somewhat more thoughtful than its well-loved antecedent.”

Taylor was a two-fingered typist who once wrote a book-length autobiographical ode to his manual Olympia upright, Making Love to Typewriters (2004). He wrote daily into his 80s at his Laguna Beach, California, home. He continued to get mail from young readers of The Cay, and he said in interviews that the book was his favorite.

“During the school year, I receive up to 600 letters a week and employ a secretary full time to answer them,” Taylor told Contemporary Authors. “No writer can be more proud of a single book than I am.”

Article sourced from the New York Sun

Hilda Van Stockum, 98, Prolific Children’s Author

By Stephen Miller, Staff Reporter of the Sun, November 3, 2006

Hilda Van Stockum, who died yesterday [1 November 2006] at 98, was an author and illustrator of children’s books, including The Winged Watchman (1962), a dramatic tale based on real-life events in which the Dutch resistance used windmills to send coded messages during World War II.


Van Stockum’s native Netherlands was the setting for many of her books, including her first, which received a Newberry citation in 1935. Subtitled “The Story of a Dutch Picnic,” A Day on Skates featured an introduction by Edna St. Vincent Millay, Van Stockum’s aunt by marriage.

Van Stockum was raised partly in Ireland, and also in Ymuiden, the seaport of Amsterdam, where her father was port commander. With no car and few companions, she recalled turning to writing out of boredom. A penchant for art evidently ran in the family, which counted the van Goghs as distant relatives. Van Stockum attended art school in Amsterdam and later in Dublin, where she met and later married Ervin Ross “Spike” Marlin, who at the time was her brother Willem’s roommate at Trinity College. Willem Van Stockum would go on to do pioneering work on the theory of relativity that became the scientific basis for theories of time travel; he was killed piloting a bomber over France in 1944. Van Stockum memorialized him in her book The Mitchells (1945), about the travails of raising a family in Washington, D.C., during the war. Asked who the book’s protagonist was, her son John Tepper Marlin said she answered, “The family is the protagonist. The family weathers the storms.”


Not surprisingly, Van Stockum was, in fact, raising a family in Washington, D.C., at the time, having married Marlin, by 1935 a Roosevelt administration official who had postings with the Social Security Administration and later with the Federal Security Agency, a forerunner of the Secret Service. During the war, Marlin joined the OSS and was posted to Ireland and London. He later helped set up the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal and became senior director of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.

Van Stockum and the couple’s six children were in tow for Marlin’s peripatetic assignments, and it seems nothing short of miraculous that she managed to write and illustrate a score of children’s books. She also translated several other books from the Dutch and worked as a freelance children’s book illustrator. Asked in 1942 by the Washington Post how she did it, Van Stockum replied with characteristic aplomb, “By neglecting my other duties.” Highly organized in her work, she illustrated and painted in the winter and wrote in the summer, when she could get her children out of the house. Her books typically featured families and were set wherever she happened to be living; Francie on the Run (1939), about a child who escapes from a hospital, was set in Ireland. Friendly Gables (1960) updated the Mitchells’ saga — by then they had moved to Montreal from Washington.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Van Stockum began concentrating on more ambitious painting projects and had shows of her canvases at galleries in Geneva, the Netherlands, Washington, and Ottawa. The Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, which had made her an honorary member in 1984, presented a retrospective of her work in 1991. Her still life “Pears in a Copper Pot” was the subject of an Irish postage stamp in 1993.

Asked again to explain her extraordinary productivity, Van Stockum once wrote, “But whenever the phone isn’t ringing to tell me six children are coming to visit, or my daughter wants to go shopping with me, or will I please come because my youngest grandchild has swallowed a safety pin … and when I’m not cooking a dinner for unexpected guests or painting a picture, or looking at a funny play on television which I can’t miss because I like to hear my husband laugh, I’m writing.”

Born February 9, 1908, in Rotterdam, Netherlands; died November 1 in Berkhamsted, England, of a stroke; survived by six children, 18 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. She became an American citizen in 1936. Her husband, Ervin Ross Marlin, died in 1995.

Article sourced from the New York Sun

Also the Hilda van Stockum website

Philippa Pearce
The Times, December 27, 2006


Philippa Pearce, OBE, writer, was born on January 23 1920. She died on December 21 2006, aged 86 – author of Tom’s Midnight Garden, a story that came to be loved by children, parents and teachers everywhere

In 1958 Philippa Pearce published Tom’s Midnight Garden. The Times Literary Supplement called it the only undoubted children’s classic since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Marghanita Laski recruited her to sit on the Arts Council literature panel which she chaired.

Tom’s Midnight Garden has never been out of print and continues to be loved by children, parents, teachers and librarians. Its fame spread about the world: in Japan its author was mobbed in the street, elsewhere she was lionised.

Ann Philippa Pearce was born in 1920 in Great Shelford, a village outside Cambridge, where her father was a miller on the river that was at the centre of her first book, Minnow on the Say (1955). For generations the family had been millers, and her mother came from similar yeoman stock. It was a stable background for the four children, who lived close to nature and animals, to their father’s work, to a friendly village, and Pearce’s books were steeped in these kind of childhood experiences. Late in life she set down a charming mélange of reflections on these past times, privately printed as Logbook (2000), whose title punned on the old tree trunk in her garden where she liked to sit. It featured too in her recent story of a bewitched mole, The Little Gentleman.

Pearce went to the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge, then to Girton College where she read English and history. After graduating, she joined the Civil Service but soon moved to more congenial work as a producer for the BBC schools broadcasting department and then as an editor in the education division of Oxford University Press. In 1960 she moved on to oversee children’s books for André Deutsch.

Pearce brought high professionalism and sensitivity to editorial commissions and to working with other people’s texts, whether in her adaptation of George Sand’s Wings of Courage (1982) and, as a picture book, Beauty and the Beast (1972), or in her magical conversion of the tangled memoirs of Sir Brian Fairfax-Lucy into that most moving of children’s books, The Children of the House (1968). Under the name of Warrener she produced texts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bunnykins characters on Royal Doulton’s nursery pottery.

Pearce married Martin Christie in 1963 but was widowed two years later, by which time she had a daughter. She had moved to Gospel Oak, London, where she worked freelance until eventually moving back to Great Shelford.woman

Her creative writing changed markedly after Tom’s Midnight Garden. In its successor, A Dog So Small, which deals with a boy’s desire to own a dog, Pearce developed the strain of naturalism, a care for the everyday that was to characterise her later storytelling. Much of her later work took the form of short stories such as The Elm Street Lot, originally written for the BBC’s Jackanory (1969) and What the Neighbours Did (1972), along with some tales of the supernatural. But two longer works achieved a remarkable fusion of story with insight into troubled characters: The Battle of Bubble and Squeak (1978), which won the Whitbread Children’s Book Award, and The Way to Sattin Shore (1983).

Settled into the familiar scenes of her own childhood, Pearce became again the countrywoman she had always seemed, self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit from her own garden, with chickens at one end, a goat (for cheese and milk) at the other, a dog and a cat and, in the meadow, the child’s pony. Keeping a hospitable house ran parallel with literary work. She reviewed for the TLS and The Guardian, was appointed OBE in 1997 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

A woman of apparent serenity with an inner life that may have been more turbulent than many suspected, she had, perhaps supremely, a quality of integrity. She could be trusted; she had principles that she lived by and friends and family to whom she was loyal, a certain stubbornness, a tender heart, great warmth when it was needed, and honesty in all things. Children, who see through the phony, liked the world she put into her books, which was hardly surprising since it reflected her qualities.

Pearce took great interest in the establishment of Seven Stories, the centre for children’s books in Newcastle upon Tyne, whose opening exhibition had a section on her work. It was during a visit to the centre that she had the stroke from which she died.


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