Record­ing the past

Stratford Press - - News - 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 many sto­ries 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.

The Tau­ranga-based au­thor 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 — where Phyl­lis is from — last year, 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 pro­vided 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 de­te­ri­o­rat­ing. She is now in her 80s, and has 17 young adult fic­tion books pub­lished.


Au­thor Phyl­lis John­ston has com­pleted her last book The For­tu­nate Ones which is part of a se­ries.

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