Margaret’s books & stories

Margaret Mahy wrote many books for children and young adults. Christchurch City Libraries holds many of her titles. Use the links below to find her books in our catalogue:

We also have a short story by Margaret on our web site: The word eater, and her poem Down the back of the chair.


Cover: The Green BathThe green bath
Sammy’s mother tells him to forget about adventures and get cleaned up for his grandmother’s visit, but the new bathtub Sammy’s father brought home seems determined to have an adventure of its own.
Illustrated by Steven Kellogg.


Cover: The Man from the Land of FandangoThe man from the land of Fandango
The man from the land of Fandango is coming to pay you a call! He wears a hat with a tassel and a polka-dot tie — and he juggles and bounces and dances with bears, bison, baboons, kangaroos and even dinosaurs. He’s wonderful and amazing — so watch out for him, and watch carefully — because he only appears every 500 years!
Illustrated by Polly Dunbar.
Cover: Mister WhistlerMister Whistler
Absentminded Mister Whistler always has a song in his head and a dance in his feet. In a rush to catch the train, he is so distracted he loses his ticket. Is it in the bottom pockets of his big coat or the top pockets of his jacket? Perhaps he slipped it into his waistcoat… Where is Mister Whistler’s ticket?
Illustrated by Gavin Bishop.
Cover: Footsteps through the FogFootsteps through the fog
Unlike her brothers and sisters, Anthea cannot see, so when they all go to the beach one day, their mother tells them to take care of her. While they are all playing on the sand, a thick fog rolls in from the ocean. Suddenly it’s up to Anthea to get everyone home safely.
Illustrated by Gavin Bishop.


Cover: The Margaret Mahy TreasuryThe Margaret Mahy treasury
Eleven favourite stories by Margaret Mahy. Includes A lion in the meadow, The witch in the cherry tree, The great piratical rumbustification, The great white man-eating shark, The librarian and the robbers, and The man whose mother was a pirate.
Cover: The Moon and Farmer McPheeThe moon and Farmer McPhee
A heart-warming story — with lots of fun wordplay — about a grumpy farmer whose animals keep him awake at night singing and dancing by the light of the moon. Eventually he is won over by the moon and the animals and learns how to be happy.
This book won the 2011 New Zealand Post Children’s Picture Book of the Year Award and the overall Book of the Year Award.


Cover: "Organ Music"Organ music
Two boys wind up deep in a forest where they encounter a scientist who is mad with grief over his dead daughter. Will the boys become victims of his creepy experiments? A short book, creepy and thrilling.


Cover: The Word WitchThe word witch: the magical verse of Margaret Mahy
A selection of the poetry of Margaret Mahy, from picture books, anthologies and her other writings.
Selected by Tessa Duder and illustrated by David Elliot.
Cover: The Dark Blue 100-Ride Bus TicketThe dark blue 100-ride bus ticket
When Carlo and his mother, Jessica, accept a free bus ticket to the supermarket at the end of the world they are really only being polite But the wonderful supermarket turns out to be real, and so are the horrible howling Dowlers who are plotting to destroy it. What begins as fun and laughter becomes violent and dangerous, and a pair of resourceful children will need all their courage if the Dowlers are to be defeated.
Cover: "Awesome Aotearoa"Awesome Aotearoa
New Zealand history like never before! Look for New Zealand on the map. There is the North Island like some long-necked creature leaping up and away, trying to escape from the South Island and Stewart Island, anxious to have a few adventures on its own. But the South Island, sternly oblong, holds it back and Stewart Island finally anchors it down. You’re not having any adventures without me, it mutters. Don’t think you can leave me behind just because I’m smaller than you two! For New Zealand is certainly an adventurous country…
Margaret Mahy joins forces with top New Zealand political cartoonist, Trace Hodgson, in this hilarious and irreverent history of Aotearoa.


Cover: The Magician of HoadThe magician of Hoad
Forced from home, twelve-year old Heriot’s unwilling steps lead him to Diamond, first city of the Hoadara. Forced to serve as the King’s magician, Heriot is isolated within the walls of Diamond, until he finds Cayley, a wild, ambiguous rat-of-the-city. Two lonely souls forge an unlikely friendship in the shadows of the city both are forced to call home. But when children become adults, childish games become deadly serious and when incipient madness erupts in chilling violence, Heriot is forced to explore the very heart of his magic.
A novel for young adults.
Cover: Bubble TroubleBubble trouble
Little Mabel blew a bubble and it caused a lot of trouble! Such a lot of bubble trouble in a bibble-bobble way. For it broke away from Mabel as it bobbed across the table, where it bobbled over Baby, and it wafted him away. Follow the hilarious efforts of the townsfolk as they chase the baby far across the town in an effort to get him down from the bubble safe and sound.
Cover: Stop That StewStop that stew!
On the way in his little red car to share a big pot of stew with his friend, Mr. Winkle is unaware of the long procession forming behind him. This picture book was released in New Zealand in 2010.


Cover: Family SurprisesFamily surprises
Rosie had a problem, a terrible problem for a dragon. Whenever she tried to breathe fire, a fine spray of water filled the air in front of her. On the other side of town, Caxton had a problem too. It’s hard for a boy who loves swimming and being active when his whole family is devoted to art. When Caxton and Rosie meet, it isn’t long before they discover just how to pool their talents.
Cover: Down the Back of the ChairDown the back of the chair
A poor family is searching down the back of a chair for Dad’s lost car keys and, miraculously in the mess of things back there, their financial problems are solved. You can read the poem Down the back of the chair on this website.
Cover: Portable GhostsPortable ghosts
Ditta is a smart, sassy twelve-year old who wants to be a detective — and when she encounters a ghostly boy reading in a mysterious corner of her school library she has her first mystery to solve. But when her best friend Max tells her the bedroom floor in his brand new house is haunted too, the mysteries start coming thick and fast and before she knows it she has a whole handful to solve.
With her nerdy computer geek sister Mirabel, the three friends find that ghosts are much more adaptable than they ever thought possible and Ditta finds not one but two ways of making them portable.

Stories in collections

Fingers on the back of the neck, a story featured in Scary stories, a young adult collection of scary short stories.


Cover: Zerelda’s HorsesZerelda’s horses
Zerelda lived in the middle of a great city, partly because her parents worked in the city, driving tourists to markets and museums in a yellow gig pulled by Puzzle — their hard-working horse. Zerelda and Puzzle were close friends, so close that Zerelda could understand horse language. So Puzzle told her many unexpected things about the city, all from a horse’s point of view, of course.
Cover: Kaitangata TwitchKaitangata twitch
What happens to a girl who has dangerous dreams? What if the land itself punishes those who would harm it? This is a supernatural eco-thriller for young teenagers about a girl caught up in a fight over a beautiful wild island, where different values, commercial interests and versions of the past collide.
Cover: Maddigan’s FantasiaMaddigan’s Fantasia
In a time not too far from our own, a colourful and bizarre group of travellers brave a post apocalyptic landscape — the acrobats, clowns, trapeze artists, jugglers and musicians who make up Maddigan’s Fantasia.
Made into a 13 part half-hour children’s television series, Maddigan’s Quest, by South Pacific Pictures in 2006. Series information at Internet Movie Database.

Stories in collections

Hidden warrior, a story featured in Young warriors: stories of strength.

The unexpected fairy godmother, appeared in Kids’ night in! 2: a feast of stories.

Cover: War, Stories of ConflictWar: stories of conflict, a collection of stories from acclaimed children’s writers including The question mark by Margaret Mahy.

Thirteen, a collection of short stories about being on the brink of young adulthood, includes an original story by Margaret Mahy: On fire for thirteen.


Cover: Shock ForestShock Forest and other stories
A collection of stories.
Watch me!
Poems and stories by Margaret Mahy originally published as The third Margaret Mahy storybook in 1973. This completes the reprint of the three storybooks. The first and second were reprinted under the titles Wonderful me! (2002) and Wait for me! (2003).