Dorothy Neal White
Newsletter 25
November 1999


Well-known Wellington author and illustrator Bob Kerr, will entertain us with his literary reminiscences at our end of the year function at the National Library on 2 December 1999. Join the Committee for drinks & nibbles in the Auditorium foyer at 5.30pm before Bob speaks at around 6pm. Another popular “sales table” of books and cards will also be offered – an opportunity to buy gifts for friends and family – or for yourself! We look forward to seeing you there.

Picture Missing *************

Frontispiece from Bob Kerr’s latest book Mechanical Harry and the flying bicycle


This year I have conducted five tours of the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collections for students from the National College of Design and Technology. Each tour was followed by an illustrated talk on the features of “good” picture books. The students have two assignments to create a small picture book, one using traditional techniques and the other using only computers. I look forward to seeing some of them becoming published illustrators or designers in the future.

In June, at the Wellington Children’s Book Association AGM, I gave a talk on “Australian Children’s Literature – the Rich Heritage”. I interpreted my brief fairly loosely, mixing personal favourites in with acknowledged classics such as Coles Funny Picture Book and The Magic Pudding and works by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas. It was intriguing to find that the book most of the audience wanted to look at after the talk was Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns by Doug MacLeod – an irreverent verse romp illustrated by Craig Smith, published in 1986.

Lynne Jackett
Curator, Dorothy Neal White Collection


Our most recent publication, Dorothy Neal White: a tribute is selling well. Favorable reviews have appeared in the New Zealand Book Council’s Booknotes (Winter 1999), the Otago Daily Times (21 July 1999) and New Zealand Libraries, September 1999. To quote from Bill Nagelkerke’s review in the latter “This is an elegantly produced tribute to an outstanding pioneer in the field of children’s librarianship and literature, and author of the classics About books for children (1946) and Books before five (1954)”.

Copies of Dorothy Neal White: a tribute are available from Audrey Cooper, 32B Halswater Drive, Churton Park, Wellington, or from the National Library Bookshop. Copies are $12.50 each for members (plus $2.50 p&p) or $15.00 for non-members (plus $2.50 p&p).


To our dismay we found several words were missed from the last line of page 10 of Dorothy Neal White: a tribute. It should have read “Four days later Dorothy Neal had accepted the proposition which was to convert her to Dunedin as her home place forever.”

Enclosed with this newsletter is an erratum slip that can be pasted into your copy of the book. If you need further slips please contact the Friends at PO Box 12 499, Wellington.


Mary Hutton and Alison Grant represented the Friends at meetings held with National Library stakeholders at which the proposed restructuring was presented.

As at mid-November, as a result of a writ served by the Friends of the Turnbull Library, a judicial review of the process and results of the restructuring plan is being undertaken. It is expected that the results of this legal process will be known in mid-December. In the meantime no further implementation of the restructuring will take place.


The best recent news has been the announcement of a second Trustees Research Grant to continue the Dorothy Neal White Collection Bibliographic Project. Together with the Macklin Grant of 1997, this means that the Trustees have provided $45,000 for this project. To date, the records created using the 1997 Macklin Grant, the 1998 Trustees’ Research Grant and the retrospective cataloguing being undertaken by the Schools Team, Collection Services, mean that over 30% of the collection now has upgraded records.

Lisa Mullis, who worked on the project from November 1998 to June 1999, has been appointed to continue upgrading the bibliographic records. Among the first books she has catalogued since her return have been several titles by Captain W. E. Johns – Biggles goes to war, Biggles flies north, Biggles flies west, Biggles in the South Seas (did Biggles get up to anything in the east one wonders?) and The cruise of the Condor: a Biggles story.

Lynne Jackett, Curator of the Dorothy Neal White Collection, put a great case for continuing the project and we share her gratitude for the Trustees’ generosity in supporting the enhancement of bibliographic access to this special collection

Picture missing ***********

An illustration by Norman Howard from Biggles in the South Seas by W E Johns (London: Oxford, 1940)


The AGM of the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection was held on 15 March 1999, at the National Library. Drinks and nibbles in the foyer area preceded the formal meeting, and this gave Friends the opportunity to mingle and chat.

President of the Society, Mary Hutton, presented a very comprehensive annual report (a copy is included with this newsletter). The Treasurer’s report was followed by some discussion on the proposed change to the Friends’ financial year. It was agreed to revert to the original “year” as set out in the Constitution – that is from 1 April to 31 March.

The committee were all re-elected:

President:Mary HuttonSecretary:Alison Grant

Treasurer:Trevor Mowbray

Other committee members:

Mary Atwool, Audrey Cooper, Julie Eberly, Lynne Jackett, Carmel Jones and Joan McCracken.

After the meeting Friends had the opportunity of touring the new home of the Dorothy Neal White Collection, guided by Curator Lynne Jackett and former Curator Mary Atwool. To conclude the evening’s activities there was a very successful sale of books.

The next Annual General Meeting will be held early in 2000.


The Annual General Meeting agreed to hold the subscription rate at $20 a year. A plea was made for members to pay their subscriptions and to encourage friends and family with an interest in children’s literature to join too as the Society’s numbers were falling markedly. The response has been very positive! If you haven’t yet paid The Treasurer will be delighted to receive your payment at any meeting, or post to the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection, PO Box 12499, Wellington, PO Box 12-499, Wellington.


Reg Moss

It is with regret that we record the death of Reg Moss on 10 June 1999. Honoured member of the Friends, researcher, collector, and author, he made a significant contribution to the Collection. Many of the Friends will recollect with pleasure the occasion of the launching of Charles Hamilton and the All Blacks (Notes- Books -Authors no.5, 1995) and Reg Moss’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable talk about a subject dear to his heart. A number of books from his Collection were bequeathed to the Dorothy Neal White Collection. The Committee and the Friends extend their sympathy to his daughter Betty Moss.

Marie Byers

The Friends were sad to hear of the death, on 12 June 1999, of Mrs Marie Byers. She was a loyal supporter of the Friends and we appreciate her generous donations to the Dorothy Neal White Collection. Our sympathy goes to her family and friends.


On 12 July 1999 the Friends held one of the most successful events in recent times. Prevailing upon the goodwill and talents of colleagues, family and friends we asked our four “guests” to read from their favourite books. Some were well known to all the audience, others not so familiar. All were wonderfully read and highly entertaining.

Missing Picture **************

The readers of “Tales told twice”.

Back: Brent Southgate, Walter Cook. Front: Kate Harcourt, Maria Heenan

Brent Southgate, freelance editor (and husband of Committee member Mary Atwool) opened the proceedings by performing (with sound affects and props) “In which Eeyore has a birthday and gets two presents” from Winnie the Pooh.

Actor’s Kate Harcourt and Maria Heenan (a National Library cataloguer) alternated their readings – these included:

Joan Tudor’s Triumph by E.L. Haverfield

“King John’s Christmas” from A.A. Milne’s Now we are six.

Alice talking to the Queen after the croquet match from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“Ratty’s picnic” from Kenneth Graham’s Wind in the willows

The house that Jack built from a beautifully illustrated Randolph Caldecott edition

An extract from Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

and the wonderfully scary

Little suckathumb by Heinrich Hoffman

Walter Cook (who works in Alexander Turnbull Library’s Photographic Archive) rounded off the evening with a variety of poems including:

“The river’s tale” from Rudyard Kipling’s verse 1885-1932

“Lewis Carroll’s “The mock turtle’s song (Lobster Quadrille)”

“The pobble who has no toes” by Edward Lear

Several of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary verses

“Oh what is a basket” by the famous Anon, published in Verse and worse

and two more recent publications

“Goldenhair” by Sir James Waller, published in The Penguin book of homosexual verse

Morris Bishop’s “How to treat elves” from The Oxford book of American light verse.

Those who attended expressed their pleasure in the performances and urged another such event in the near future. The Committee agree and will look towards more “tales” next year.

Joan McCracken

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BANG !!!???***!!!

Piglet [not] delivering Eeyore’s birthday present.

From Winnie-the–Pooh by A A Milne with decorations by Ernest H Shepard (London: Methuen, 1926)


New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1999

The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards presentation was held in Government House at 11am on Wednesday 31 March 1999.

The Governor-General and Lady Hardie Boys welcomed guests – adults and children – in an atmosphere of keen anticipation. Items of interest which featured throughout the morning included a video presentation of children talking enthusiastically about books short-listed in this year’s awards. The news that the 1999 New Zealand health stamps would promote the works of Margaret Mahy, Lynley Dodd and Joy Cowley was greeted with acclaim.

At last came the moment everyone had been waiting for – the announcement of the award winners. These were as follows:

Book of the yearA summery Saturday morning, by Margaret Mahy and Selina Young (Penguin)

Picture BookA summery Saturday morning

Junior fictionStarbright and the dream eater, by Joy Cowley (Penguin)

Non-fictionThe natural world of New Zealand, by Gerald Hutching (Penguin)

Senior fictionTour, by Jack Lasenby (Longacre)

First bookFootsteps of the gods, by Hana Hiraina Erlbeck (Reed)

Children’s ChoiceThe life-sized inflatable whale, by Gaelyn Gordon and John Tarlton (Scholastic)

Honour AwardSlinky Malinki Catflaps, by Lynley Dodd (Mallinson Rendel)

Killer moves, by Denis Edwards (Scholastic)

All sorts of trucks, by Pauline Cartwright and Tim Hawkins (Bridge Hill)

I am not Esther, by Fleur Beale (Longacre)

Peter Gordon accepted his wife Gaelyn’s posthumous Children’s Choice Award and a bronze statue on her behalf. Authors and illustrators expressed excitement and pleasure in their awards. The ceremony over, guests enjoyed a delicious and convivial lunch before departing at 2pm.

These annual Award celebrations play an important part in publicising memorable New Zealand children’s books. Many of the books indeed now go on to gain international reputations. Judging convenor John McIntyre* rightly said, “New Zealand children’s literature is deservedly on the world stage”.

* Other members of the judging panel were Ruth Corrin and Brent Southgate.

Postcript: In view of the significance of these Award ceremonies it is surely a matter for concern that neither National Library nor Wellington Public Library children’s library staff appear to receive invitations to attend. These knowledgeable librarians have traditionally done as much as anyone to foster and promote books and reading. It seems incomprehensible, therefore, that children’s library staff are not at least represented on the guest list.

Audrey Cooper
Alison Grant

Awards to Lynley Dodd and Elsie Locke

As this year’s recipient of the Margaret Mahy medal, Lynley Dodd delivered the 1999 Margaret Mahy lecture at the Auckland College of Education on 20 March.

Elsie Locke has been awarded the New Zealand Book Foundation’s newly instituted “Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book”. The book to win this distinction, The runaway settlers, has been continuously in print since 1965. The Award will be made annually. It will honour a work of fiction which has never previously won a major New Zealand book award but which has stood the test of time.

The Friends congratulate Lynley and Elsie on their respective successes.

Alison Grant


It’s that time again when we are looking for some small gifts for our friends and family. Here are some ideas:

Notes – Books – Authors no 7 – our new publication celebrating the life of our namesake and founding patron Dorothy Neal White (see notice elsewhere in the newsletter), will make an excellent gift for all those interested in children’s literature in New Zealand.

Greeting cards featuring work of New Zealand illustrators Robyn Belton, Ruth Paul, Tracey Moroney, Philip Webb, Jill McDonald, Karen Oppatt, Gwenda Turner, and Caroline Campbell are available from the National Library Shop at a cost of $2.75 each or $19.80 for a set of eight. Work by these artists was featured in the National Library Gallery exhibition Show me!

Health Stamps – The 1999 Health Stamps were issued in June. As announced at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards this year they feature the work of three New Zealand authors for children. Ann Adams of Wellington designed the stamps. To quote the NZ Post Stamps Centre web page:

“A New Zealand Children’s Health stamp issue has been issued every year since 1929. The three stamps in the 1999 issue all carry a 5c surcharge which is donated to New Zealand Children’s Health Camps, which works to provide a healthy environment for children. The focus of this year’s Children’s Health stamp issue is children’s books and their contribution to the education, health and well-being of our children. Like parables, these stories were intended not only to enlighten but also to educate the listener. Chosen for this stamp issue are three popular children’s books. The first is Hairy Maclary’s Bone, written and illustrated by Lynley Dodd, and published by Mallinson Rendel in 1984. Hairy Maclary has become a familiar and very special character to New Zealand children, and has helped cement Dodd’s place as one of New Zealand’s foremost authors of children’s picture books. The second is The Lion in the Meadow, by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams. No collection could be complete without this title by Mahy, a seminal work of New Zealand children’s literature first published in 1961. Mahy has fittingly described the story as being “about the triumph of a child’s imagination.” The last stamp in this issue is Greedy Cat, by Joy Cowley, illustrations by Robyn Belton. This story, while a distinctly New Zealand tale written by a New Zealander in 1983, has universal appeal and is as popular overseas as it is here.

All of these authors have made wonderful and ongoing contributions to helping our children learn how to read, while telling stories that children love to read.”

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