Dorothy Neal White
Newsletter 30
April 2002


We wish to apologise to members for the lack of activities this year. Committee members have had difficulty finding the time to organise events and publications. We miss our President! As you will read later in the newsletter it is again time for the Society’s AGM. While all the committee are happy to stand again we do need a Secretary. If there is anyone out there willing to take on these roles – or who would be interested in being our events organiser – we would be delighted to hear from you.


On Tuesday 27 November 2001 we celebrated two significant events for the Friends. The Minister for the National Library, Marian Hobbs, presented the inaugural Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Scholarship to Tania Connolly at a function in the National Library’s main foyer. In reply to the Minister’s speech of congratulations Tania outlined her research project – to investigate the portrayal of Irish characters in books for children published before 1940. Friends will be able to get an update on Tania’s research at the Annual General Meeting in July.

Also at the function in November Friends were able to see a display that included the copy of The boy chemist purchased for the Dorothy Neal White Collection by the Friends. See Lynne Jackett’s report later in this newsletter.

Minister for the National Library Marian Hobbs with scholarship winner Tania Connolly and DNW research librarian Lynne Jackett
Minister for the National Library Marian Hobbs with scholarship winner Tania Connolly and DNW research librarian Lynne Jackett

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


On Tuesday 16 July 2002 the AGM of the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection will be held in the Lower Ground Floor meeting room of the National Library. The evening will begin in the traditional way with drinks, nibbles and chat at 5.30pm. The meeting will follow at 6pm and will include the election of officers and a report on her research project by Scholarship winner, Tania Connolly. If members have any issues they would like to have included on the agenda please let Joan McCracken know by 12 July 2002 (see contact details below).

Following the formal proceedings we will launch Notes–Books–Authors 8


The Committee is delighted to announce that we are to launch the eighth in our series of occasional publications Notes-Books-Authors at the Annual General Meeting in July. This contains the publication of the text of the talk that author Kate De Goldi gave to the Friends on 19 June 2001. This very entertaining address brought back marvellous memories of books read and enjoyed, and we are sure Friends will relish re-visiting LM, KM, EL, ME and Me, KDG in printed form. Copies of the publication will be distributed, on the night, to all Friends who attend the AGM, and will be posted to all other members soon after.

Kate De Goldi will be present at the launch.


Current committee members

Name Position Phone Email

Joan McCracken
Secretary and newsletter editor
474 3056 (wk) 479 6123 (hm)

Trevor Mowbray
478 8132

Audrey Cooper
478 7468

Julie Eberly

Kerry Fryer
479 2344 (wk)

973 5987 (hm)

Alison Grant
476 4320

Mary Hutton
475 9268

Lynne Jacket
National Library representative
474 3084 (wk) 564 4496 (hm)

Carmel Jones
387 1485 (wk)
383 6264 (hm)


Tania Connolly, the recipient of the inaugural Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Scholarship in 2001, has now completed her research paper, part of the fulfilment of her Master of Library and Information Science degree at Victoria University. She made excellent use of the collection and will give an account of her research at the Friends’ AGM in July. We hope to be able to print this in our next newsletter for those who are unable to attend the function.

The Scholarship will be offered again in 2002.


I am Carmel Jones and have been a member of the Friends’ Committee for about ten years or so.

I began my professional life as a Trainee with Wellington City Libraries in 1985, in the Children’s Library and worked as a Children’s and Young Adults’ specialist until 1998 when I was appointed to the Wellington City Libraries Leadership Team.

Since I have a passion for Children’s literature, it would be difficult for me to choose a favourite book. I love books that rhyme, time fantasies, historical fiction, evacuation stories, alternative folk tales and stories about magic. I am (according to my husband) the only person in the world, who doesn’t like Harry Potter since I much prefer the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones.

Noisy Nora written & illustrated by Rosemary Wells.
Noisy Nora written & illustrated by Rosemary Wells.

My three-year-old granddaughter, Amber, and I spend a lot of time reading together. Through her I have rediscovered the magic of Madeline, Harry the dirty dog, Noisy Nora, Titch, Alfie and Annie Rose, Shy Charles and many many more.

Noisy Nora written & illustrated by Rosemary Wells.


A reminder to Friends that the following publications are available to members.

Dorothy Neal White: a tribute

Postcards – from the Fabulous and Familiar exhibition
$1.00 each

Cards with envelopes – from the Show me! exhibition
$2.00 each

Back issues of Notes-Books-Authors
$3.00 each

All these publications will be available at our next function – or by writing to the Society at PO Box 12499, Wellington


It is with sadness that we record the death of Diana Randell. Diana had a long and distinguished career with the National Library. Diana first joined the National Library Service (NLS) as a library assistant in 1952, straight after completing the DipNZLS. She became First Assistant in the Cataloguing Section in 1954, rising to Head of the Cataloguing Section in 1962 and to Deputy Head of the Technical Services (later Collection Management) Group in 1983, the post she held until her retirement in 1988. She continued her association with the Library after her retirement as a founder member of the National Library Society and was for many years its secretary.


A service to celebrate her life was held in Wellington on 28 December 2001 and there were many from the Library community who attended – a testament to her standing in the Library profession and of the many friends she made during her career. Her reputation for high standards and integrity was remembered as were her kindness and generosity to friends and colleagues. As an obituary in Library life, Te Rau Ora February 2002, recalls “when it came time to write a short message on birthday cards or farewell notes, Diana had an uncanny knack for knowing exactly what to say. That her comments always held a particular resonance for the recipient demonstrated her keen perception and awareness of those she worked with”.

This same sensitivity made her a caring neighbour (she lived in the same house in Karori all her life) and friend. She was very involved in St Mary’s Anglican Church in Karori, and was secretary of the Wellington Girls’ College Old Girls’ Association. She shared with her sister, Beverley Price, a love of wild flowers and native plants, and had a life long enthusiasm for books and learning. Her desire to make knowledge accessible to others underpinned her professional life and made her such a valuable member of the National Library Society. As president Carrick Lewis said in his tribute at Diana’s funeral (reprinted in the Society newsletter in March 2002) “Diana recognised the Society as an important organisation which helps to build a bridge of understanding between the Library and the community as a whole. …She gave close attention to detail, was most conscientious and dependable, and will be remembered by all for her warm smile and welcome at meetings and when she looked after the reception table at functions”.

It was in her role as Secretary that I most often saw Diana in recent years. We would regularly pass the time of day on the stairway in the National Library as she delivered posters and leaflets around the Library to keep staff and researchers informed about the activities of the Society. She was meticulous about contacting the Friends when events were on and tried, wherever possible, to co-ordinate the activities of our two groups. When told of her unexpected death I found it hard to believe that someone who seemed so much part of the fabric of the Library would not be with us any more.

We extend our sympathy to all Diana’s friends and colleagues and in particular to Beverley, Hugh and Susan Price.

Joan McCracken
Secretary, Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection


The Boy Chemist

After the successful function in November at which the purchase of The boy chemist was celebrated (together with the awarding of the FDNW Scholarship), George Jones of the Royal Society had 30 facsimile copies of the book produced. One of these was officially presented to Nobel Prize winner Alan McDiarmid at a function in the National Library foyer on 8 February 2002, where he signed both the Collection copy and a facsimile copy of the book. That evening I was a guest at the Royal Society dinner for the Nobel laureate. At it he presented the Royal Society and the National Library with a signed copy of Le Prix Nobel 2000 which includes papers by all the Nobel Laureates for that year (it will be held in the Alexander Turnbull Library). Each laureate was invited to provide some biographical information. Alan’s section begins “I was born a Kiwi (a New Zealander) in Masterton, New Zealand on April 14, 1927, and am still a Kiwi by New Zealand law …”.

Alan McDiarmid, George Jones and Lynne Jackett with The boy chemist.
Alan McDiarmid, George Jones and Lynne Jackett with The boy chemist.

Alan McDiarmid, George Jones and Lynne Jackett with The boy chemist.

Photo from the Royal Society website.

An electronic facsimile copy of The boy chemist by A. Frederick Collins (Boston: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1924) is now viewable online on the Wellington Branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand “Alert” at and can be downloaded in PDF format.

The display in the National Library foyer of the book has now finished. The book has been returned to the Dorothy Neal White Collection and is available for visitors to view.


Since the start of the year the area has been busy with researchers using the collection for Master of Library and Information Science research projects. They have all now completed their assignments and the area seems very quiet. I am looking forward to learning how they fared with their papers – and even more to viewing the results of their labours.

Several more groups of design students have visited the area for talks about the children’s collections and picture book design.


Both the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collection have received books donated by Auckland City Libraries and some early printings of Beatrix Potter books have been added to the Dorothy Neal White Collection. Funding for purchases for the National Children’s Collection was given a considerable boost this year, so selecting and purchasing overseas children’s titles has been a very enjoyable activity. The books selected are award-winning, controversial and news-making titles and books by authors and illustrators of note, such as Anthony Browne, Raymond Briggs, William Mayne and Rosemary Wells.

Macklin Grant

Following the success of the Dorothy Neal White Bibliographic Project, I was inspired to apply for another Macklin Grant. The Trustees have awarded $2,500 to undertake conservation work on Enzed Junior, the 1930s children’s supplement to the “Auckland Star”. I am currently negotiating with a conservation firm to undertake the work As a follow-up to the bibliographic project the Collection now has a separately searchable location on our online catalogue, so searches can be limited to retrieve titles solely from the DNW rather than all the National Library’s Wellington Collections. The same search limitation is also available for the NCC. You can search the catalogues from home through our website


The next display in the Dorothy Neal White Collection case in the National Library foyer will featue The tale of Peter Rabbit in celebration of the 100th anniversary of its first publication.

Eight books have been loaned to the Colonial Cottage Museum (68 Nairn Street, Wellington) for Heritage Month (June). These books were part of a 26 book donation from the Museum to the Dorothy Neal White Collection in 2000, so we were very pleased to be able to assist with this exhibition.

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


Another successful New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival reached a climax on Wednesday 27 March with the presentation of the annual book awards. This year there was a change of venue from Government House to the Legislative Chamber at the Houses of Parliament. The time of the ceremony was also changed from late morning to late afternoon. As guests began arriving for the 4.30pm occasion they were entertained by members of Maclary Theatre Productions in their quirky, brightly coloured costumes. Hairy Maclary was particularly engaging.

This year’s host, the Hon Trevor Mallard, Minister of Education, welcomed the guests. He spoke enthusiastically about the importance of books and reading for children and remembered with affection some of the books that had influenced him as a child. Then, apologising for his departure, he left to attend to urgent parliamentary matters.

New Zealand Broadcasting’s Geoff Robinson was an able Master of Ceremonies, cleverly heightening the feeling of anticipation as the ceremony proceeded. Elmar Toime, CEO of New Zealand Post, sponsor of the awards, spoke of his Company’s pleasure at being involved with the promotion of books and reading for five years and promised the continuation of sponsorship. He also announced that a winner had been chosen for their “Design a Stamp” competition, another way of publicising children’s books. He was followed by Linda Henderson, CEO of Booksellers New Zealand, who administered the Festival and the Book Awards. She also spoke warmly about the Association’s part in encouraging New Zealand writers and publishers in establishing a specifically New Zealand literature for children and young people. Thanks were extended to New Zealand Post and to Creative New Zealand for their support.The high point of the afternoon’s events was the announcement of the winners. Dame Catherine Tizard convened the decision making panel with William Taylor and Glenn Colquhoun the two other judges. In her introduction Dame Catherine said that the judges agreed that “in the range, the scope and the quality of books available to young New Zealanders is cause for celebration”. Praise was given to writers, illustrators, publishers, editors and book designers. The judges had read and assessed books in the four set categories: Senior fiction (14 entries), Junior fiction (26), Picture book (42) and Non-fiction (32) and had in each category selected a short list of five titles and a winning book. In addition they had chosen a Best First Book (author or illustrator) and a Book of the Year. The panel members were unanimous in not selecting honour awards this year, considering instead that all short-listed titles were deserving of honour. Children themselves decided the Children’s Choice category. To a buzz of anticipatory excitement Dame Catherine announced the winners which were as follows:

Picture book of the Year – presented by judges William Taylor and Glenn Colquhoun

Joy Cowley Brodie, illustrated by Chris Mousdale. Scholastic New Zealand.

Junior fiction – presented by judges William Taylor and Glenn Colquhoun

Sandy McKay Recycled. Longacre Press

Non-fiction – presented by judges William Taylor and Glenn Colquhoun

Lloyd Spencer Davis The plight of the penguin. Longacre Press

Senior fiction – presented by judges William Taylor and Glenn Colquhoun

Joanna Orwin Owl Longacre Press.

Children’s Choice Award – presented by students from Thorndon School, Wellington.

oy Watson Grandpa’s shorts, illustrated by Wendy Hodder. Scholastic New Zealand.

Best First Book Award – presented by Elmar Toime

Chris Mousdale for his illustrations for Joy Cowley’s Brodie. Scholastic New Zealand.

Book of the Year Award – presented by Elmar Toime

Lloyd Spencer Davis The plight of the penguin. Longacre Press.

This is the first time that a work of non-fiction has won this prestigious award.

Illustration from The plight of the penguin by Lloyd Spencer Davis. Longacre Press, 2001
Illustration from The plight of the penguin by Lloyd Spencer Davis. Longacre Press, 2001

Illustration from The plight of the penguin by Lloyd Spencer Davis. Longacre Press, 2001

The formal part of the ceremony over, Award winners and guests socialised in the Grand Hall over drinks and nibbles. There was time for congratulations, for greeting friends and for reminiscing. Pleasant background music was played by a string quartet of members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In addition to sponsoring the book awards, New Zealand Post is a Gold Sponsor of the first violins of the Symphony Orchestra.

Mary Hutton
Committee, Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection


NESTLÉ Write Around New Zealand: NESTLÉ Tuhi Amio Whenua is a creative writing programme for students in Years 7 & 8 to write their own 500 word story in English or te reo Maori. This is the second year of this national competition run through public libraries around New Zealand. The aim is to encourage young writers to be involved in the creative writing process by entering this competition and participating in workshops conducted by published New Zealand authors.

Wellington City Libraries is the zone co‑ordinator for the Wellington, Wairarapa and Kapiti areas. A Zone launch took place on 30 April 2002 in the Central Library with Deputy Mayor Alick Shaw officiating. Present were Jane Hill, Libraries Manager, students from Wellington and Hutt schools, teachers, authors, and staff. Local author, Fleur Beale, spoke about creative writing to the children, encouraging and inspiring them in their writing.

The closing date for entries is 5 July 2002 with the 20 finalists being announced in August. Last year more than 8000 entries were received nation‑wide with 1050 entries from our zone, the most for any zone. Eleanor Gill from Brooklyn School was the national Year 7 winner with her story “The Fleas”.

NESTLÉ Write Around New Zealand: NESTLÉ Tuhi Amio Whenua is a community programme of Nestlé New Zealand. Prizes for the competition are valued at over $60,000. More information can be found on the NESTLÉ Write Around New Zealand: NESTLÉ Tuhi Amio Whenua website at

Kerry Fryer

Zone Co’ordinator, Wellington City Libraries

TOVE JANSSON: 9 AUGUST 1914 – 27 JUNE 2001

I felt a personal sense of loss when I read of the death of Tove Jansson. Regrettably, I did not discover her till I was a babysitting student. When one of my families produced Comet in Moominland for bedtime reading we were all instantly captivated and I’ve delighted in Jansson’s books ever since.

Finnish author/illustrator Tove Jansson will always be remembered for her enchanting creations, the Moomins. Unlike their hairy troll relatives, Moomins are tubby, hospitable and sun loving, welcoming their many visitors with warmth and conviviality. Their round blue house deep in Moominvalley is a comforting haven from the perils and catastrophes without – a haven where Moominmamma presides over all.

The Moomin’s eccentric family and friends are each as idiosyncratic as the Moomin family themselves: the anxious and obsessive Fillyjonk who thrives on cooking and spring-cleaning; Snufkin the wanderer; the bossy self-absorbed Hemulen; the ghostly Hattifatteners who re-electrify themselves in thunderstorms; wayward Little My, and a score of others.

These remarkable creatures inhabit a Scandinavian landscape full of folklore and mystery. It’s a precarious world “…where safety and catastrophe run on parallel lines nourishing each other”1 – a world where anything is possible. Some say that Tove Jansson’s stories appeal only to a minority. They may be right. However, in my public library experience I found that once fantasy-inclined children had been introduced to the Moomins they almost always became fans. They delighted in the daft logic, the funny eloquent dialogue, and the strange mixture of enchantment and cosmic disaster.

With all their poetry and wry humour Jansson’s books like those of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, have an undertone of melancholy and terror reflected also in the illustrations. Despite this her drawings of the elusive dwellers of Moominland still convey that air of surprised wonder so much part of the Moominlanders’ view of life.

Implicit in Jansson’s work is her concern with human needs and frailties. Through her comic and endearing characters she subtly expresses fundamental ideas abut human behaviour – about responsibility, fear, freedom, self-awareness, and so on. This speculative note is most evident in Jansson’s last children’s book Moominvalley in November. Here, for the first time the Moomins are absent (they’re away in the lighthouse of Moominpappa at sea). When six of their friends, all for different reasons, come looking for Moomin comfort they find the house empty and cold, everything wrapped in November gloom. The six spend an uneasy autumn together learning in their day to day problems some understanding of themselves and of each other. By the time they finally leave, one by one, they do go with something of what they’d come for. The story closes with the Moomins’ return and, typically, with the reassurance that all would be well. “Toft sat high up on the mountain…looking at the sea… Just before the sun went down it threw a shaft of light through the clouds… making the whole world look very desolate. And then Toft saw the storm lantern Moominpappa had hung up on top of the mast. It threw a gentle warm light and burnt steadily”.2

Cover of Finn Family Moomintroll, by written & illustrated by Tove Jansson. London: Ernest Benn, 1958
Cover of Finn Family Moomintroll, by written & illustrated by Tove Jansson. London: Ernest Benn, 1958

Cover of Finn Family Moomintroll, by written & illustrated by Tove Jansson.
London: Ernest Benn, 1958

Like most great fantasy Tove Jansson’s tales are timeless and many-layered, revealing fresh delights with each re-reading. Individuals’ responses to the stories will, as ever, depend on age, taste, and perception. For example older readers of Comet in Moominland (first published in 1946) will possibly see an unexpected, if symbolic, relevance to certain contemporary events.

Jansson has written several novels for adults as well. One of these, The summer book, is an account of the memorable summer a little girl and her grandmother spent together exploring an island in the Gulf of Finland. I mention this not only because the book was first reviewed as children’s fiction, but because it’s perhaps the most directly autobiographical of her novels. (The author herself lived much of her life alone on an island in this Gulf). Strangely enough Jansson’s real autobiography, Sculptor’s daughter seems much more likely to be viewed as a children’s book. Although it’s a unique and illuminating portrayal of childhood, Sculptor’s daughter has an inconsistency in tone (partly the translation perhaps?) which makes the book hard to categorise.

Jansson will always be best known for her children’s books. Originally written in Swedish they have been beautifully translated into English and now appear in some 22 languages. Jansson won the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1966 and in 1980 the Helsinki prize.

I would like to end this tribute to Tove Jansson by quoting from her acceptance speech (given in English) for the Andersen Award “…only a child can keep perfect balance between the excitement of the commonplace and the safety of the fantastic. It is a sublime way for self-defence; turning the edge of both menace and triviality. Perhaps that is what the writer for children attempts; reinstating this precarious balance”3. How superbly she has achieved this delicate equilibrium!


1.Tove Jansson On winning the Andersen Award p.234

2.Ibid, p. 175

3.Ibid, p.236


Blount Margaret, Animal land: the creatures of children’s fiction, London: Hutchison, 1974

Fisher Margery, Intent upon reading: a critical appraisal of modern fiction for children, Leicester: Brockhampton, 1962 (1961)

Fisher Margery, Who’s who in children’s books: a treasury of the familiar characters of childhood. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1975

Jansson Tove, Comet in Moominland, translated by Elizabeth Portch. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967 (1946)

Jansson Tove, The exploits of Moominpappa, translated by Thomas Warburton. London: E Benn, 1952

Jansson Tove, Finn Family Moomintroll, translated by Elizabeth Portch. London: E Benn, 1950 (1949)

Jansson Tove, Moominland midwinter, translated by Thomas Warburton. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971 (1958)

Jansson Tove, Moominpappa at sea, translated by Kingsley Hart. London: E Benn, 1966

Jansson Tove, Moominvalley in November, translated by Kingsley Hart. London: E Benn, 1971

Jansson Tove, “On winning the Andersen Award”, in Top of the News (April 1967) p.234–239

Jansson Tove, Sculptor’s daughter, translated by Kingsley Hart. London: E Benn, 1969 (1968)

Jansson Tove, The Summer book, translated by Thomas Teal. London: Hutchinson, 1975 (1972)

Jansson Tove, Tales from Moominvalley, translated by Thomas Warburton. London: E Benn, 1963

Alison Grant
Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection Committee


Astrid Lindgren, another famous Scandinavian children’s author, has recently died. She was given a splendid funeral. Tens of thousands lined the streets of Stockholm to bid her farewell – an unusual honour for any author. A tribute to this remarkable writer will appear in the next newsletter.


Aganoa, Samoa
Aganoa, Samoa

Aganoa, Samoa. Need we say more?? (And it is even better in colour!)


The 2001 Annual General Meeting agreed to hold the subscription rate at $20 a year. It was also suggested that 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 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 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

My donation of $ to the DNW Scholarship Fund is enclosed

Email address:


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