Margaret Mahy’s stories come to life on the screen

Two absolutely wonderful DVDs are released today that celebrate legendary New Zealand author Margaret Mahy and her magical tales.  Margaret may no longer be with us but her stories live on and these new DVDs give an insight into her writing and present her stories and poems as they were intended.

Margaret Mahy’s Rumbustifications takes us inside Margaret’s home in Governor’s Bay as she reads 5 of her stories and 11 of her favourite poems to her grandchildren and pets.  It’s quite intimate and you feel like you are actually sitting right in front of her as she reads.  The stories and poems that Margaret reads are ones that children and adults alike will be familiar with and you might even discover a new favourite story.  Margaret performs her stories and poems as she imagined them and they sound spectacular rolling off her tongue.  I especially love her performances of Down the Back of the Chair and Bubble Trouble and The Boy Who Was Followed Home is now one of my favourite stories of hers (I hadn’t read this before and I can’t believe I missed this).  What I loved most about this wonderful production are the magical additions to her stories.  Many of them have had animation and sound effects added after the reading has been recorded, so each of the things ‘down the back of the chair’ actually pop out of Margaret’s chair and end up crowding the screen.  In ‘Summery Saturday Morning’ animated geese actually chase Margaret’s dog.  None of the animations get in the way of your enjoyment of the story, but make it even more special.  It is thanks to Margaret’s long-time friend, Yvonne Mackay, that we can now enjoy Margaret’s enchanting readings on DVD for the very first time.

Margaret Mahy’s Rumbustifications is the perfect gift for the whole family this Christmas.  I can imagine everyone crowding around the TV and being held captivated by Margaret’s reading.  It’s available in NZ wherever DVDs are sold at $19.99.

A Tall Long Faced Tale is an incredibly interesting and detailed documentary about Margaret Mahy that’s aimed at adults.  It was recorded for TVNZ’s Artsville programme several years ago and is now available on DVD for the first time.  In this 70 minute documentary Margaret is interviewed by her most iconic and exciting animated characters, the Lion in the Meadow, David from The Witch in the Cherry Tree, Mother Pirate, and author Elizabeth Knox.  I loved these appearances by her characters as it was a quirky interview technique and I wondered who would pop up next. A wide range of subjects are covered, including memory, identity, motherhood, magic and the universal appeal of her stories.  As well as the characters from her picture books, some of the characters from her young adult novels make an appearance and ask her about the stories they feature in.  Some of the illustrators that Margaret worked with throughout the years talk about Margaret and her magical stories, including American illustrator Steven Kellog (The Boy Who Was Followed Home),  English Jenny Williams (The Lion in the Meadow, The Witch in the Cherry Tree), and Quentin Blake (Nonstop Nonsense).  I loved the way that the interview ends with Margaret walking down the wharf with her characters by her side, and Elizabeth Knox’s final question is one of the most fantastic interview questions ever – ‘If you were given 3 wishes, either selfish or unselfish, what would they be?’ I’m sure you will be as surprised as I was with her answers.

A Tall Long Faced Tale is a must-watch DVD for all teachers, librarians, and anyone who loves children’s literature.  It’s available in NZ wherever DVDs are sold at $24.99.

Thanks to Chris from Production Shed.TV for sending me copies of these wonderful productions.

Check out these videos from Margaret Mahy’s Rumbustifications and A Tall Long Faced Tale and keep an eye out on the blog for a chance to win your own copy of the DVDs.

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Filed under authors, books, children, Interview, New Zealand

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