South Canterbury tributes for Mahy
'She was a very unpretentious, interesting, idiosyncratic person'ROSA STUDHOLME
Renowned Canterbury children's author Margaret Mahy was remembered in South Canterbury today.
Mahy died in Christchurch yesterday after being diagnosed with cancer in April. She was 76. Over her career she produced more than 120 books.
Timaru author Owen Marshall said it was "very sad news", describing her as a "very interesting and influential person".
Mahy made an appearance at the launch of his book Harlequin Rex in 1999.
"She was a very unpretentious, interesting, idiosyncratic person, and highly intelligent. She knew a lot about the art and craft of writing.
"It's easy to dismiss children's writers but she had a very good grasp."
It was a loss to New Zealand and to the international writing community, he said.
"It's a cliche but I think in some ways she remained young at heart and remained in touch with the wonderful freedom that children have to mix fact and fantasy.
Waimate children's author Ken Catran said Mahy was a lovely lady and very humorous.
"She was one of the most sincere and natural talents in this country, and it was recognised.
"People like Margaret go on getting better and better. In five years time she probably would have written even more amazing work than now."
He described her as being the children's literary version of Janet Frame, who she admired.
"She was a very unique product. She was a wonderful asset to Canterbury and the South Island.
"[The stories] come from her own creative genius that nobody could effectively copy."
Catran won the 2007 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, which Mahy had congratulated him on.
Temuka illustrator and cartoonist Bob Darroch said although he had not followed Mahy's career her legacy of books was certainly an achievement.
"It's just a feat that she's been [published] so many times.
"It is certainly obvious that she's mastered the art of being able to connect with little kids."
St Joseph's School librarian Sarah Houghton said the library held almost half of Mahy's works. "The neat thing is throughout all of her works ... they've been popular."
The books were sprawled over tables yesterday as children buried themselves them.
"I've just always enjoyed it," Year 8 student Julia Hogg said, picking up The Witch in the Cherry Tree. "It's just such a cool one. I love the witch. She's pretty cool.
"I've read mostly [Mahy's] picture books and I'm starting to read the chapter books."
Condolences from national civic leaders have been rolling out today, as well as tributes from around the globe.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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