Introducing Dame Lynley Dodd
Could you have grown up in NZ in the last couple of decades and not known (and loved) Hairy Mcleary. Children can recite whole books before they can read. (In fact, I know children who can’t even talk yet and growl with delight at Scarface Claw). There’s no doubting her success!
I was thinking today, even if it’s NZ children’s lit – not YA lit as per my focus here – Dodd’s work is worth analysing…
According to Delwyn Dickey (Slinky Malinki’s Lynley Dodd), “An only child, Lynley was raised by her parents in a tiny forestry settlement in the central North Island. Her parents were both avid readers and both had a wonderful sense of humour. Lynley recalls fun and nonsense with words being a normal part her childhood. Art was also a big part of her younger days and so it seemed natural to continue on and to turn a passionate pastime into a career. After studying Art at Elam, majoring in sculpture, Lynley became an art teacher for five or so years before leaving to start a family. Art remained a constant always, as she moved into freelance illustration work while her children were young. When she collaborated with author Eve Sutton to create My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes in1973 her artwork started to head in a different direction, and with the publication in 1976 of her first solo effort the Nickle Nackle Tree Lynley’s future as a children’s book writer and illustrator was set. The hugely popular little scallywag who is the star in Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy first appeared on bookshelves in 1983 and the rest, as they say, is history.”
According to Tauranga Art Gallery: “Over five million Hairy Maclary books have been sold worldwide, with over nine million Dodd books sold overall. Dodd has been recipient of many awards including Children’s Picture Book of the Year (1984, 1986, 1988, 1992) and the Margaret Mahy Medal (1999).”
Awarded the Distinguished Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002, Dodd became Dame Lynley Dodd in 2009.
Of Dodd’s writing, Margaret Mahy declared: “Of all the picture books originating in New Zealand, Dodd’s long line of Hairy McLarey books have been perhaps the most internationally successful. The various characters are recognized and enthusiastically named by little children and, while the images spin from between the book covers into videos, jigsaw puzzles, and a variety of other products, the stories themselves–simple, rhythmic, amusing, and worthy of repetition–remain good to read aloud.” (np) [Ref: Mahy, Margaret. “Country Survey: Finding Your Reflection in a Small Mirror: A Developing Children’s Literature in New Zealand.” Bookbird 37.1 (1999): 50-56. Rpt. in Children’s Literature Review. Ed. Dana Ferguson. Vol. 155. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Literature Resource Center. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.]
There are a few sites which give more info:
I haven’t done a full search yet, but she’s that popular, I expect there’s heaps of material out there (…although I’m not sure about academic criticism off the top of my head).