Monday, 14 May 2018

Some Marvellous M's by Lynne Benton

There are a lot of marvellous children’s authors whose names begin with M, so I won’t have space to write about all of them.  However, here are some of the best:

Lucy Maud (L.M.) MONTGOMERY was a Canadian writer, born in 1874, whose most famous book, and creation, was “Anne of Green Gables.”  I first discovered Anne when I was about eleven, and just loved her.  Eventually I managed to read all the books (and there are 9 in the series, plus “Chronicles of Avonlea” and “Further Chronicles of Avonlea” in which Anne also features), mainly thanks to my local library and my local second-hand bookshop where I had a standing order for her books.  She also wrote “Emily of New Moon”, “Pat of Silver Bush”, “The Story Girl” and many more, but Anne remains most people’s favourite, and has been filmed and televised several times over the years.  In fact the tiny Prince Edward Island, where the stories are set, became so famous that the locals complained that they were overrun with people looking for “the real Green Gables”.  L. M. Montgomery was awarded an OBE in 1935 but died in 1942.

 MICHAEL MORPURGO was born in Hertfordshire in 1943, and before he became a writer he was a teacher.  His most famous book, which has been adapted for the stage and filmed for the big screen is “War Horse”.  Other well-known books are “Private Peaceful” and “The Butterfly Lion”.  From 2003-5 he was the third Children’s Laureate, and in 2018 he was knighted for his services to children’s literature.

DAVID McKEE is possibly most famous, for a TV generation of children now in their forties and beyond, as the creator of Mr Benn, the ordinary man who has magical adventures and remedies injustice wherever he finds it.  Having read his first story, “Mr Benn and the Red Knight”, the BBC commissioned him to write twelve further episodes for TV.  He has now written many other books for children, including the brilliant “Not Now Bernard”, as well as the King Rollo series and several books about Elmer the patchwork elephant.

 ALAN ALEXANDER (A.A) MILNE’s character, Winnie the Pooh, is a stalwart of most children’s bookshelves, although Milne had achieved fame as a playwright and novelist well before the birth of his son, Christopher Robin.  Then followed two books about his son’s furry friends, “Winnie the Pooh” and “The House at Pooh Corner”, and two collections of his children’s poetry, “When we were very young” and “Now we are Six”.  All were inimitably illustrated by his friend E.H. Shephard, and all have long since eclipsed his work for adults.  He died in 1956.

JILL MURPHY (born 5 July 1949) is a British writer and illustrator of children’s books, best known for the Worst Witch novels and the "Large Family" picture books.  She started writing her first Worst Witch book while she was still at school, though she didn’t find a publisher till she was 21, when it became an instant success.  Since then she has written and illustrated six more in the series, as well as her lovely series about the Large Family of elephants, which have delighted both children and adults for many years.  She has won and been shortlisted for many awards, including the Smarties prize and the Kate Greenaway award.

 GERALDINE McCAUGHREAN has written many books for children and won several awards, including the Carnegie, the Blue Peter, the Costa and the Hans Andersen.  Her work includes Peter Pan in Scarlet (marketed as a sequel to J.M.Barrie’s “Peter Pan and Wendy”) as well as many other children’s fiction books, including The Kite Rider, The Stones are Hatching and Plundering Paradise.   She has also written several retellings of classic stories for children: The Odyssey, El Cid, The Canterbury Tales, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Moby Dick, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, and Gilgamesh.    

JAN MARK wrote many books for children and adults, but it was for her children’s book, “Thunder and Lightnings” in 1976 that she won the Carnegie medal, and again for “Handles” in 1983.   (And nobody has ever won the Carnegie medal three times!) Her short stories are concise and acutely observed, and she also wrote novels about seemingly ordinary children in contemporary settings, such as Thunder and Lightnings, as well as science fiction novels set in their own universes with their own rules, such as The Ennead.  She died suddenly in Oxford in 2006.

 MICHELLE MAGORIAN was born in 1947, after the end of WW2, but her first and most famous book is “Goodnight Mr Tom”, set during the war and inspired by stories told her by her mother who was a nurse at the time.  “Goodnight Mr Tom”, published in 1981, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 1982 and was commended for the Carnegie medal; a later book, “Just Henry”, won the Costa Book Award in 2008.  “Goodnight Mr Tom” was filmed in 1998, starring John Thaw as Mr Tom.  She lives in Hampshire.

Not so many N's next time, so I shall combine them with the O's.  Until then, happy reading!


Sue Bursztynski said...

I’ve heard of most of these, but only read a few. I believe Christopher Robin Milne became a dedicated environmentalist. At least, that’s what I heard from a journalist who knew him.

Are you doing a belated A to Z blogging challenge? :)

Lynne Benton said...

Please enlighten me - what is an A-Z blogging challenge?

Penny Dolan said...

I love being reminded of all these great children's books and authors, Lynne, so thanks for your "M's".

Looking forward to next month's surprises now. :-)