On Margaret Mahy and the week that was.

Even if my life right now isn’t exciting, precisely, I still ought to get into a habit of blogging up a storm every now and then…. so here goes nothing.

WACKY is my word of the week. Not because it’s a particularly fantastic word, or anything (although it can have a wonderful infliction to it, when pronounced with the right amount of vigor and verve) but I’ve just been using it an awful lot lately, and, let’s be honest, it’s not used nearly enough lately.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is my movie of the week. Whilst the release has obviously been somewhat overshadowed by the horrors in Aurora, CO, the film itself is a glorious piece of blockbuster cinema. I need to see it again to make a more measuring and definitive opinion on it, but I enjoyed every second of it. My other most recent movie outing (it’s the NZFF right now, so there’s a few coming up) was to THE CABIN IN THE WOODS – and I certainly can’t say I enjoyed every second of that one (me and horror don’t get on, really, but Joss Whedon!) but the vast majority of it (the parts when I had my eyes open) was amaze. So hilarious, so novel, and basically, if you get the chance, go watch it, folks!

Books? Jeez. I’ve been overloading on textbooks and course readers in the workplace, and my Kobo is full of easy reads and/or rereads like The Hunger Games (I’m over that shouty capitalisation, back to some good old italics) and Game of Thrones and whatnot (there’s also a hell of a lot of Margaret Atwood, but at the end of the day, literary genius can be a little much for my poor wee brain). Once semester’s in full swing and everything’s a little more chilled out in buyer’s office land (ie. I can stop placing coursebook top-up orders every couple of hours) then perhaps my brain will deal better with words.

But, on the topic of books, I must mention the huge loss to the New Zealand writing community yesterday. Margaret Mahy was basically the heart of NZ children’s literature. I recall excessive watching of video adaptation of several of her picture books (my favourite was The Witch In The Cherry Tree… or maybe The Three Legged Cat? All I can remember is that The Great White Man-Eating Shark always scared me). Then, when I was a little older, reading my little sister’s copies of The Five Sisters and A Villain’s Night Out (probably my absolute favourite Mahy book, even though I don’t think that many people are aware of it, which I realise makes me sound like a total NZ kids lit hipster. Whatev.). And then as a teenager (because Margaret Mahy was the kind of literary badass who stuck around for one’s entire childhood and adolescence) I read 24 Hours and The Catalogue of the Universe. And then best part, possibly, of those, was that the imagination and the wild story was still there. Instead of descending into formulaic love stories like so much YA fiction does, crazy things happen, but the tone (and ages of the characters) is/are still raised enough that the discerning/moody teen reader won’t just think that it’s a kiddy author who’s trying to update her audience. She was just fantastic. And in a strange twist of fate, I was reading The Lion In The Meadow (her first, and probably most famous, book) on Sunday, the day before she died, for the first time in God knows how long. It had been a while since I’d read any of her books, but having a boyfriend who has a young niece has many perks, including being exposed to so many childhood-memory books whenever we visit. Lions and dragons in your backyard – what more can you want as a kid?

Witches in cherry trees eating cupcakes? Adventuring tomcats that discover they make very good Davy Crockett-esque hats? Wicked witchy shadows which wreak havoc on the world? Paper dolls that see the world and the years pass as they take to the wind and hide in chemistry books? Storybook villain-creatures who sneak out of the pagely bonds before you can squeak ‘squidgy moot’? Beautiful hippy girls and the astronomers who love them? Roller-skating ‘Land of Smiles’ blasts from the past?

Margaret Mahy, as a reader, a writer, a grown-up child and a childish ‘grown-up’ (legally, but up for debate) I salute you, your life and the legacy of words you’ve left behind for generations to read, love, and read again.

And that’s all I have to say today.

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