Phyl­lis’ fi­nal book

Bay News - - FRONT PAGE - By Re­becca Mauger

As a child, Phyl­lis John­ston wished that all chil­dren could hear the sto­ries of her mother’s past.

Now they can.

As a child, Phyl­lis heard story af­ter story of fun, ad­ven­ture and hard­ship told by her par­ents. The sto­ries en­thralled young Phyl­lis and she hoped other young chil­dren might be lucky enough to hear such tales.

Phyl­lis started writ­ing in her 30s what would be­come the May se­ries, based on her mother May and their fam­ily. Af­ter vis­it­ing a school in Taranaki last year— where Phyl­lis is from— the fam­ily de­cided to re­print the books.

“We found that read­ers were pay­ing up to $65 for a tat­tered sec­ond copy and chil­dren and par­ents were still lin­ing up for th­ese books to be signed,” daugh­ter Mary says.

The May se­ries was first pub­lished in the 1980s and 1990s.

The se­ries also acted as a so­cial his­tory of New Zealand from the 1900s un­til the end of World War II. No one Went to Town, Black Boots and But­ton­hooks and A Comet in the Sky are still be­ing used in schools as his­tor­i­cal ac­counts of pioneer fam­ily life in the early 1900s.

The fourth book in the se­ries was No Lily-liv­ered Girl and Phyl­lis has re­cently com­pleted the last in the se­ries The For­tu­nate Ones. This com­pletes the story of May, Wally and their chil­dren.

This will be Phyl­lis’ last book as her eye­sight is not what it was. She is now 83, and has 17 young adult fic­tion books pub­lished, with only two un­pub­lished.

Books a Plenty are stock­ists of the book or check out www.noonewent­to­town.co.nz

Phyl­lis John­ston has com­pleted the fifth book in the May se­ries, TheFor­tu­nateOnes.

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