Dorothy Neal White
Newsletter 28
April 2001


The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection will be held on Tuesday 8 May 2001 in the Lower Ground Floor meeting Room, National Library Building (entrance off Aitken Street). Proceedings will begin at 5.30pm with drinks and nibbles in the Auditorium foyer, with the AGM beginning at 6.00pm. The meeting will be followed by Literature breeds distress? poetry readings from childhoods past. Further information about this special event will be found elsewhere in the newsletter. To conclude the evening’s activities there will be a sale of books.

As usual the agenda will include the appointment of officers. All current members of the committee are happy to stand again, but nominations for new committee members are very welcome. If you are interested in supporting the Friends in this way please contact the President, Julie Eberly.

The current committee is

President Julie Eberly
971 2662

Secretary Lynne Jackett
564 4496 (wk)

Treasurer Trevor Mowbray
478 8132

Newsletter Joan McCracken
474 3110 (wk)

Audrey Cooper
478 7468

Kerry Fryer
479 2344 (wk)

Alison Grant
476 4320

Mary Hutton
475 9268

Carmel Jones
387 1485 (wk)


Elsie Locke died suddenly in her Christchurch home on 8 April 2001. She was a remarkable woman. Diminutive, unpretentious and plain living, she nevertheless was a ball of fire. Her impact on the community was enormous. Environmentalist, socialist, peace campaigner, writer, library supporter, Elsie was especially vocal concerning books and library services for children. How appropriate it was that her children’s historical novel The runaway settlers (published 1965) should be, in 1999, the first recipient of the New Zealand Book Foundation’s “Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book”.

Elsie was involved in such a wide range of activities that they cannot be covered adequately here. A fuller account of her life and achievements will appear later.

Alison Grant
Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Committee


I am now a Children’s & Young Adults’ Specialist at Cummings Park Library, Ngaio, having worked in the Central Children’s & Young Adults’ section at Wellington City Libraries for 13 years. I am a long-time Wellington resident, living in Ngaio, married with 3 adult children. My interests include reading, gardening and enjoying the varied Wellington city life.

As the most recent addition to this group I look forward to working with the other committee members of the Friends of the DNW Collection.

Kerry Fryer
Team Member, CYA Specialist, Wellington City Libraries


The Committee is pleased to announce to the membership progress on this new initiative. Taking into account the importance of the Collection as a research facility the committee considered how best to promote and support this. We decided that VUW was the best-suited educational institution in this area as it offers higher degrees in long running children’s literature courses and librarianship. Graduates with an ongoing professional interest in libraries also seemed the most likely to use and promote the collection in the future.

The amount of money the committee feels comfortable dedicating to this project is not large by scholarship standards, however the University has been willing to accept our proposal for a five-year commitment. The award will be for $500 dollars a year and will only be awarded if there is a suitable applicant. A member of the Friend’s Committee will participate in the selection of the scholarship recipient along with a representative from the University Scholarships Office and the Director of the Masters or PhD programme/s from which the applications are received (or nominee).

If the Membership approves this plan the award will be offered this year, applications due on the 1st of September 2001. The members will be asked to approve this venture at the AGM and Miranda Turner from the VUW Foundation will be on hand to answer questions. A copy of the proposed Scholarship regulations will be available at the AGM.

We hope this scholarship will encourage study of the Collection, and of children’s literature in general, as well as providing beneficial publicity to the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection.

Julie Eberly
President, Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection


December to April has been an interesting time, with the usual mix of requests and visitors, donations and the cataloguing project progress and several highlights.


In January I was fortunate to attend the Australasian Children’s Literature Association for Research (ACLAR) Conference held in Christchurch and was invited to speak briefly about the DNW and NCC at the opening session. I was also able to distribute a fact sheet about the collections. The highlight of the conference was Margaret Mahy. In her formal session she held us enthralled, although I occasionally worried, as she digressed from digression to digression, that she would not return to the main thread of her talk. As usual, I should not have worried. Margaret’s books were the subject of many sessions and it added an edge of interest and excitement to hear Margaret’s responses to their research. These were invariably gracious (although she did say she would have to reread the book after one session) and often demonstrated Margaret’s breadth of reading and interest in people and events.


In February the display in the exhibition cabinet in the Library’s main foyer was changed to “Australian Children’s Literature: a truly magic pudding”, featuring Australian children’s books from both the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collections.


In March I was asked if either the DNW or NCC contained a copy of The boy chemist as this was the book that Professor Alan MacDiarmid, Chemistry Nobel Laureate, had identified as the source of his inspiration to pursue chemistry. He remembered the title and that it was bound in blue. He found the book so good when he borrowed it from the Lower Hutt Public Library that he kept renewing it for a whole year – presumably while he completed all the experiments. In The standard catalog for high school libraries, 6th ed. 1952, I found reference to The boy chemist by Archie Frederick Collins, rev. and enl. ed. Odyssey, New York, 1944. 341p. US$2.75. First ed Boston,1924. They quote the author’s foreword:

I have written this book so that you can easily make the experiments and thus gain a very good idea of how and why chemicals react to each other …If you make the experiments in order, by the time you reach the tenth chapter you will have taken a fairly good course in Chemistry, and that will serve you well for all time.

The book certainly seemed to do the trick for Professor McDiarmid. Unfortunately the book is not held in either the DNW or the NCC (although the Young chemist, a British publication of similar vintage is held). If anyone has a copy of Archie Frederick Collin’s Boy chemist at home or sees it anywhere I would be very pleased to accept a donation or a contact so that I could purchase it.

In April two groups of students attending the National College of Design and Technology in Wellington visited for a tour and a talk about the collections and the characteristics of good picture books. I also delivered that talk to first year students from Massey University School of Design. A greater challenge came in the form of an urgent request to talk to 4th year Massey University design students not only about the collections and how to access them, picture books and design in general, but also about poetry books for 8-9 year olds.

This talk was arranged at about 10am and presented at 1pm, because the old museum building that now houses the Design School was flooded and the tutor needed an urgent replacement for their day’s activities. While part of the talk was familiar territory, the poetry books were selected in 30 minutes. The session was enthusiastically received, with most students staying on to discuss aspects of the books.

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

I introduced the group to several versions of The highwayman by Alfred Noyes to illustrate the power some artists have to capture the spirit of a poem (and equally the failure of others to do so). My personal favourite is Charles Keeping’s 1981 version published by Oxford University Press (illustrated right).

I am looking forward to seeing the results of their next assignment – one picture will be selected to illustrate a poem being published by Learning Media.


The April 2001 issue of “Library Life” contains an article “A very long shelf life” about the DNW, NCC and Susan Price Collection. The article includes photographs of Dorothy Ballantyne, books from the collections and me. The latter is fortunately soft focus!

New position

A new position, to replace the dis-established Curator of the Dorothy Neal White Collection position, has been advertised. The Dorothy Neal White / National Children’s Collection Research Librarian will be a member of Reference Services staff. The hours for the position are increased from 16 hours per week to 20 hpw.

Conservation Project

The Conservation programme to repair dust jackets of books in the Dorothy Neal White Collection is progressing slowly. Staff have also made a very fine job of repairing a large number of issues of The Press Junior that bore the marks of very tight spring grip folders and heavy use by child readers.


12 books have been gratefully received into the Dorothy Neal White Collection since the last newsletter. In addition, 22 books have been offered to the National Children’s Collection.

Lynne Jackett
Curator, Dorothy Neal White Collection


A large gathering of family, friends, and colleagues from the art world celebrated the life of David George Aidan Rendel at a memorial service held on 25 January 2001. Most of those present knew David as a publisher and gentleman. They were to learn of his childhood in Europe as the son of a diplomat, and later of his attendance at Downside public school in England. He read engineering science at New College, Oxford, and this led to a long and distinguished career in British aviation.

In 1972 he came to New Zealand to work as an aeronautical engineer for the Civil Aviation Department in Wellington. He loved New Zealand and stayed. In 1980 he and his wife Ann founded a small publishing company, Mallinson Rendel. Over the years the company has become synonymous with the very best of children’s publishing producing books of the highest quality. Among the company’s many successes are the Hairy McLary stories by Lynley Dodd. Their popularity led to the establishment of the Hairy McLary Theatre Company.

David had many interests. In England he was a member of the Aeronautical Research Council, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Institution of Engineers. He was also involved in the revival of hot air ballooning and acted as a consultant on the film Those magnificent men in their flying machines. In New Zealand he helped to found the Sport and Vintage Aviation Society.

David suffered a stroke in February 1999 and died on Christmas Eve 2000. He will be sadly missed by the Friends, and indeed by all who knew him.

Audrey Cooper
Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Committee


A very special performance will take place after the Annual General Meeting this year. Following the highly successful Tales told again in July 1999, members urged that we should have a similar event in the near future. The time has come!!

We are very lucky to have secured the talents of four distinguished readers for

Literature breeds distress? poetry readings from childhoods past*.

Actor and Librarian, Maria Heenan, and Raconteur and Curator, Walter Cook, will make a welcome return to our stage. They will be joined by our own Lynne Jackett, Curator of the Dorothy Neal White Collection, and by the distinguished Poet and Teacher Bill Manhire. The performers will read poems from their childhoods (or those of their parents or children) for the Edification and Entertainment of the Friends.

Please come. Guests are also very welcome.

*Our title comes from the Hilaire Belloc poem Sarah Byng – all will be revealed on the night!

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

Illustration by Nicolas Bentley from Cautionary verses by Hilaire Belloc (Duckworth, 1940)


The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards ceremony was held at Government House at 11.30am on Thursday 2 April 2001. This annual event, preceded as it is by a nation-wide festival promoting books and literacy among children, always generates lively interest. But this year’s occasion was especially significant. Their Excellencies the new Governor-General, Dame Silvia Cartwright and Peter Cartwright were the hosts. Moreover, this was the first time the Governor-General had carried out her official duties since the swearing-in.

Their Excellencies warmly welcomed the diverse gathering of guests. Other dignitaries including Elmar Toime, the CEO of New Zealand Post, and Alice Heather, the Executive Officer of Booksellers New Zealand, also extended greetings. Speakers commented on the long-term benefits of the Awards ceremonies to all concerned in the business of books and reading. That 2001 was the twelfth year of the New Zealand Book Awards presentations and the fifth of New Zealand Post’s involvement was worthy of mention. Appreciation of this support and for the work of regional co-ordinators and volunteers was expressed.

Judith Fyfe, the Mistress of Ceremonies, integrated the morning’s proceedings with a deft hand. Children’s contributions were a prominent feature of the programme. After the finalist authors had been awarded their Certificates of Recognition the Tawa School choir sang Dorothy Buchanan’s I have a song to sing. This interesting item was followed by a video showing children from Sacred Heart and Saint Bernard’s schools commenting engagingly on the short-listed books (also pictured).

The culmination of the morning’s events was, of course, the announcement of the winners. Mick Brown, former judiciary judge, convened the decision-making panel. In summing up the panel’s conclusions he said how much he had enjoyed working with his fellow panelists Barbara Murison and Christine Ross. Their ability to draw on a wide knowledge of children’s literature and children’s reading had been of invaluable help in the panel’s deliberations. In addition, Mick Brown thanked Selwyn Muru for acting as consultant in the assessing of Mäori books.

Children themselves decided the Children’s Choice Category. Thirty-eight thousand votes had been received. The winners were as follows:

Book of the Year and Senior Fiction Book of the Year

Voyage with Jason by Ken Catran (Lothian)

Picture Book of the Year and Children’s Choice Award

Oliver in the garden by Margaret Beames and illustrated by Sue Hitchcock (Scholastic)

Picture Book Honour Award

Dragor, or, how a dragon suffering from prickly heat saved the world from perpetual winter and established a well-known weed by Pat Quinn and Philip Webb (Scholastic)

Junior Fiction

Shadrach girl by Joy Cowley (Penguin)

Honour Book

The lies of Harry Wakatipu by Jack Lasenby (Longacre)

Senior Fiction Honour Award

24 hours by Margaret Mahy (Collins)

Non Fiction

The zoo: meet the locals by Colin Hogg (Random House)

At the end of the ceremony award winners and guests enjoyed socialising over a delectable lunch. Visitors departed at 2.30pm.Alison Grant
Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Committee


My introduction to the Dorothy Neal White Collection came with the opening of the Room on the third floor on the National Library Building in 1987. I was entranced and as soon as was possible I brought my mother for a visit. Together we explored the shelves, exclaiming over shared favourites and delighting in the covers and contents of previously unknown titles. I had to return to work but Mum spent most of the day reading and renewing her acquaintance with books from her childhood.

For both of us it was essential to establish very early in our visit to the Collection that the books of Gene Stratton-Porter were on the shelves. They were! Here were Laddie, and Freckles and the Girl of the Limberlost just as I remembered them. It didn’t matter that we could find most of the titles on our own shelves (they travelled between our homes depending on who needed to re-read one of them) – what mattered was that they were taking their place amongst the important books in the lives of New Zealand children.

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

Frontispiece from Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter, illustrated by Wladyslaw T Benda (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1913)

As it happens I am not a pre-1940 child – but my mother certainly was and my sister and I “inherited” several of her favourite books and they became special to us too. In particular I remember, along with Gene Stratton-Porter, L M Montgomery’s Anne books, Heidi, and Pollyanna, and an extraordinary book called Phyllis by Mrs Hungerford. The latter deserves a column all of its own and unfortunately is not in the Dorothy Neal White Collection.

What is it about Gene Stratton-Porter’s books that has appealed down through the generations? I think it was the combination of strong central characters with special talents – albeit ones that came through hard work and learning – and the wealth of detail about the natural world that was clearly the author’s personal passion. I like her independent characters and if, in my teenage years I was most drawn to the romance of The harvester, nowadays I find the feisty Elnora in Girl of the Limberlost more to my taste. Both, however, remain on my re-reading list and I look on them as old friends to be regularly revisited with pleasure.

I was intrigued to find a web-site dedicated to Gene Stratton-Porter and from there I learnt that

Gene (born Geneva) Stratton-Porter is one of Indiana’s most famous female authors. Her life and intellect are fascinating. She was a prime example of an independent woman, an accomplished naturalist, a perfectionist extraordinaire and a born story-teller. Born near Wabash, Indiana in 1863, she lived until 1924. A streetcar accident claimed her life in Los Angeles at the height of her movie production career. For a thorough biography of Gene Stratton-Porter, see her daughter Jeanette Porter Meehan’s book, The lady of the Limberlost; the life and letters of Gene Stratton-Porter (N.Y: Doubleday, Doran, 1928).”

I’m sorry I won’t be able to read the biography – it is not held by the National Library or by Wellington Public Library – but I will revisit the web-site for further information about the author. (The address is: for anyone else who is keen to learn more). In the meantime I have the welcome prospect of reading A daughter of the land, a Gene Stratton-Porter novel that was not in our family collection but which is available on loan through the National Children’s Collection.

Joan McCracken
Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Committee


Gwenda Turner, one of New Zealand’s best-known and most admired picture book artists, died suddenly in Christchurch last February. Although Australian born she had lived in New Zealand for some 34 years.

Gwenda had written, designed and illustrated children’s books since the early 1980s. In 1984 The tree witches won the (then) New Zealand Library Association’s Russell Clark Award for the most distinguished picture book published in New Zealand in 1983.

Her illustrations reflect careful and affectionate observation of children engaged in their everyday pursuits. Somehow she managed to capture in her books the real New Zealand childhood. Whether they are baking, ballet dancing, making mud pies or learning to count, her picture book children, busy and exuberant, are instantly recognisable; their chatter is the authentic voice of New Zealand’s young.

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

Illustration from Gwenda Turner’s Playbook (Viking Kestrel, 1985)

Many of Gwenda’s publications – over 25 of them – have a strong Canterbury feel. One of her last picture books, indeed, is about her adopted city of Christchurch.

Gwenda Turner died too soon. But it is good to know that, although she has gone, her books live on. They will continue to delight and inform children of today and also the children of tomorrow.

Alison Grant
Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Committee


The 2000 Annual General Meeting agreed to hold the subscription rate at $20 a year. Since a plea was made at the 1999 AGM for members to pay their subscriptions and to encourage friends and family with an interest in children’s literature to join too, the Society’s numbers have increased. We hope the trend will continue!

The Treasurer will be delighted to receive your subscription payment at the next Annual General 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 newsletters and 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




Email address:

The Friends of the Dorothy Neal White CollectionInvite you to an evening of Entertainment & Elucidation

On Tuesday 8 May 2001
Literature breeds distress? poetry from childhoods past*
Walter Cook
Maria Heenan
Lynne Jacket
Btill Manhire

Will read poems from their childhoods

(or those of their parents or children)

The evening will begin with drinks & nibbles at 5.30
In the Auditorium Foyer
Aitken Street entrance
National Library of New Zealand

To be followed at 6pm by the AGM of the Friends
And then our entertainment will begin.

All Welcome!!

*Our title comes from Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tale Sarah Byng – all will be revealed on the night!
Lynne Jackett
National Children’s Collection Research Librarian


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