Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand's most successful children's authors and has recently written two books about that iconic insect, Buzzy Bee. Here are some of her favourite books:
THE STORY OF PING
Margery Flack and Kurt Weiss.
Almost nine, I was a struggling reader and this was the first book I read. I made two discoveries - that reading accessed a story, and that unlike an oral story, the printed telling didn't change with the second reading.
THE GOSPEL OF ST JOHN
My parents expected me to read the Bible right through every year. I didn't quite manage that but was drawn to the St John Gospel, because of the poetic meaning and the music that took me to places beyond words. "The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof but knoweth not whence it cometh or whither it goeth. So it is with everyone that is born of the spirit." To read that was to become a wide open space for the wind of another realm.
SCENTED GARDENS FOR THE BLIND
Writers tend to be plot driven or character driven. Janet Frame's plots are small but her characters and their environment are always exquisitely drawn. My first Frame book was Scented Gardens for the Blind. Later I read her other books that were grounded in autobiographical detail, but I began with the most abstract and was enthralled with the imagery. To describe it as allegory is to belittle it. It's a book that crosses the arts - painting, music, sculpture, poetry.
THE BONE PEOPLE
I was on a long train ride and had a manuscript given to me by the Spiral Collective, a group of women who wanted to publish the story. This was my introduction to The Bone People and I have no memory of the train ride, because Keri Hulme's manuscript became the journey. I felt tremendous excitement. The "great New Zealand novel" was about to arrive, but it would not be what anyone was expecting. The Bone People was stunningly original, it wedded us to the land and gave us our identity as tangata whenua and tangata whenua hou.
- Sunday Star Times