Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: “Glory! Glory! There’s the salt!”

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  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Ok, for someone like me who was too old to have grown up with Margaret Mahy picture books as a child (apart from Lion in the Meadow!), and who bypassed MM's YA novels because trashy novels about bitchy ladies in Manhattan were more appealing, what's a good place to start on a MM rediscovery? I will read anything!

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to richard,

    the luckiest geeky astronomer of all got to have his Angela, as well :-)

    Jolisa, what a wonderfully sad, merry post. And Richard, adding his coup de grâce punchline.

    Not a dry eye in the house.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Can I just say that this piece by Jolisa is a beautiful piece of writing in it's own right and I am richer for having read it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    Robyn - a couple of personal favourites to recommend:
    Kaitangata Twitch
    Awesome Aotearoa - a collaboration between MM and Trace Hodgson resulting in a very funny and inspired NZ history for young readers. With the added recommendation that it offended Radio Rhema. Heh.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Wonderful writing, Jolissa. Catalogue is my favourite, too. (I think- not sure I want to chose one :))
    It's funny how people being nasty just makes one angry- while people being kind makes one cry. Me anyway.
    That and books. One of their pleasures, which only sounds odd to people who don't read, is tearing up a bit.
    For some reason Russell Hoban's 'The Twenty Elephant Restaurant' (and some of his other books) used to get me a lot. Marg loved Hoban's writing. She was a remarkably prolific writer, for sure. And the hardest working person I have ever met. But she was also always very aware and proud of being a wide and voracious and active reader. "What are you reading?" she'd ask us- and random strangers, anyone reading in public- and then want to talk about it.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • JLM, in reply to Jolisa,

    Thank you so much Jolisa. I love how everyone has different treasures to remember. I think this might be the Elizabeth Knox link you meant. The other one went to Carl Stead's blog, and he hasn't mentioned MM yet.

    http://www.elizabethknox.com/archives/2012/07/24/margaret-mahy-hero/

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 239 posts Report Reply

  • JLM, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    For some reason Russell Hoban’s ‘The Twenty Elephant Restaurant’ (and some of his other books) used to get me a lot. Marg loved Hoban’s writing.

    Very pleased to hear that, Rob. Deborah's tribute highlights "the way she wrote about good and effective parenting" and that immediately made me think of the Frances books, which have a special place in our family.

    Sincere condolences to all your family

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 239 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to JLM,

    You're right - thanks for spotting that!! Too many tabs open on my browser. I'll see if I can get the webmaster to fix the earlier link.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jolisa,

    Done.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    That one sounds a bit like an entry on the geological timescale.

    Perfectly appropriate as an adjective then.

    Mahyem certainly gets my vote for the name of the universe Margaret Mahy created.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Mahyem certainly gets my vote for the name of the universe Margaret Mahy created.

    Also -- here in quake-addled Chch -- I can't help thinking we could measure books on a scale of Mahytude. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Wood,

    Oh big sis, you big meany! How do you do it?

    <Heads for the loo for a great piratical rumbustification of a howl>

    ...I may be some time.

    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    The Tricksters is pretty hot -- my top-equal favourite with The Catalogue of the Universe. And - it's okay not to be blown away by them all equally. The recipe and the ingredients, while similar, differ from book to book, and you'll find some that please you more than others. Some are more uncanny, some more realist, some quite whimsical, others very dark. Have a play!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    “What are you reading?” she’d ask us- and random strangers, anyone reading in public- and then want to talk about it.

    The funny thing about that question is that it so often shuts people up. (I usually go completely blank, myself). Except when you're talking about kids' books, I find.

    One of their pleasures, which only sounds odd to people who don’t read, is tearing up a bit.

    There is something voluptuous about a good cry. The books that made me go "waaah" were the ones I most often re-read, as a child. Not for melancholy, but because - oh, to be able to just feel! And to try to figure out how the trick was accomplished.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Greg Wood,

    <Heads for the loo for a great piratical rumbustification of a howl>

    <Bangs on the door> Hurry up!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • martinb, in reply to richard,

    think the book the Catalogue of the Universe features in the story- the guy who isn't the fullback or fast bowler stands on it to get the girl...from memory I think she tells him to stand on it...

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Glad this is still going here. Was so sad to see the 24 hour news cycle has rolled on past this great New Zealander.

    Been wearing one of these all day at work today

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    The Lion, the Witch and the Pirate...
    well wrought Jolisa...

    Margaret Mahy - So long and thanks for all the pirates, and for sowing the seeds of wonder!

    all kids after reading her
    navigate to the Mahy Pole
    to dance through life...

    “I can’t think of one other kid I know who’d wake up at two a.m. and find her mother scything the grass.”
    I can’t think of one other writer I know who’d put that scene in a book set in New Zealand.

    I can see R.H. Morrieson getting away with it... sadly, unlike Margaret Mahy's well deserved acclaim, he was (as he prophesised) "...another one of these poor buggers who get discovered when they’re dead?"

    and something for the Dewey-(Decimal)-eyed among you... retro library posters

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I'd been largely avoiding reading anything for fear of acknowledging the fact making it all become real but then my kids' school (where I am a teacher aide) spent today crafting notes and stories and poems which will adorn Margaret Mahy's coffin and it's all a bit too much.

    Margaret and my mother were childrens librarians at the same time (though in different cities) and she was an enormous influence on my Mum and thereby me as well. Somewhere I have signed copies of several of her books - always with a little doodle of a lion or a crocodile.

    I think my favourite of her picture books is The Witch in the Cherry Tree. The mother being delightfully vague and half engaged with her son's ideas, the witch yearning for the cosy domesticity inside the house and the little boy, David, who is cannier than either of them.

    The teen books came out at just the right time for me. All those "ordinary" girls who were anything but left me with powerful feelings which never quite subsided but I think it was the adults who left the biggest impression - parents who were fully rounded characters with flaws and fears and dreams of their own.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    <q> always with a little doodle of a lion or a crocodile.

    O! I just went upstairs and gathered an armload of Margaret’s works -and found, tucked above them, a drawing-

    it was originally up on the corkboard behind the desk in the cupboard – laughingly called “The Writer-in-Resident Office” at Canterbury University.

    It was *the* lion in the meadow, with a simple “Welcome to the next Writer-in-Residence!” (which was me) in Margaret’s own hand. V. typical of her kind & deep thoughtfulness-

    Right. Instead of snivelling, on to rereading the stories-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Nicola Rowe,

    When I left New Zealand to do postgrad in Germany, The Changeover was one of the two English-language books I took; all these years and several quakes later, it is still recognisably a story of magic unrolling in my city, at a place where the Ferrymead hills bend a little.

    Brilliant tribute. Thank you, Jolisa.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Can we get rid of that spam person?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Islander,

    Done.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Beautiful tribute.

    And yes, the oddities and diversity and mixture of characters in her writing always felt welcoming. Even with the uneasiness of the plots.

    The Changeover is still my favourite - bought the original edition last year (yay Abebooks). I also like Maddigan's Fantasia, book and show (and many others, of course).

    On another note, libraries were lifesavers to me growing up, and she has been so thoroughly associated with them. I'll be thinking of her when I do my next book run.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

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