We are all mourning for Margaret Mahy, so very sad that our magnificent story teller has died. I recommend Jolisa’s and Craig’s tributes to her: “Glory! Glory! There’s the salt!” and OPEN HOUSE: Margaret Mahy, The Storyteller in The Meadow.
I loved her writing too, because it worked for me, as an adult reading picture books to my children, and as an avid reader of her fiction for young adults, because actually, it’s excellent fiction for not-so-young adults too. But something I’ve been reflecting on since the news of her death is the way that she wrote about good and effective parenting and partnering. I’m thinking of the mothers in The Lion in the Meadow and The Witch in the Cherry Tree, who both calmly carry on with their work, incorporating their small children’s imaginings into what they are doing, even entering into the imagining, and through it all providing security for the little ones, should their imagination become too frightening. It’s a beautiful model of how to work with and respond to children. This is yet another reason why I loved her writing so much: she helped me to learn how to be a better mother of young children.
Yes, of course we have baked gingerbread witches using the recipe at the back of The Witch in the Cherry Tree. And thrown the burnt ones outside for any witches that might happen by.