Author(s): Margaret Mahey
"A year or so after my attempt to live the life of a witch I moved into yet another attempt to take over an exotic life, entering rather more dangerous territory this time. Having been taken to the Alexander Korda film of The Jungle Book, I became instantly and profoundly envious of Mowgli. I could not bear to think that that particular life might be restricted to the flickering images that had so dramatically chased one another across the screen of the Regent Theatre in Whakatane. It seemed someone should have the dedication to bring Mowgli into the real world. I determined to live his life, and began telling other children at school that I was an evacuee from Britain (and indeed we had at least two genuine evacuees at our school, so we were familiar with the condition). I had flown to New Zealand (I said) but the plane had crashed in the Indian jungle and I was the only survivor. I claimed to have lived there among the animals and had learned their language. From a distance of about 58 years I look back on these allegations with puzzlement. How could I ever have expected any of my contemporaries to believe for a moment in the alternative life I was claiming for myself? After all, I had lived in Whakatane, surrounded by cousins, for my whole life. There were fellow pupils who had known me since we attended kindergarten together. There was no way, no matter how passionate my assertions, that anyone could have believed me..."
Margaret Mahy has published over one hundred titles and won several major prizes and awards, including the Order of New Zealand, for her internationally acclaimed contribution to children's literature. She has twice won the prestigious Carnegie Medal, for The Haunting (1982) and The Changeover (1984).