Phyllis Johnston was a children's writer with a particular interest in New Zealand history. She was involved in literary organisations for many years, serving as president of the Bay of Plenty branch of the Childrens Literature Association for over two decades. Her stories have appeared in numerous editions of the School Journal and she taught children’s writing at Waikato University. Her book Dead Dan's Dee was nominated in the Junior Fiction section for the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Johnston, Phyllis (1935 – 2021) was a children's writer with a particular interest in New Zealand history. She was part of Read NZ's Writers in Schools programme for over 18 years, visiting more than 200 schools to share her love of reading and writing.
Her stories appeared in numerous editions of the School Journal. Her book titles include My Things and the Hidden Light (1984); A Comet in the Sky (1985); and Then There Were Nine ((1989).
Johnston was involved in literary organisations for many years, serving as President of the Bay of Plenty branch of the Children's Literature Association from 1983 - 1996. She taught children's writing at Waikato University and was a judge for competitions of writing by children.
A short story for adults appeared in The Turning Face (1984), and Johnston won the Manawatu Evening Standard Short Story Competition in 1982.
In 1998, she received The Storylines Betty Gilderdale Award for outstanding services to New Zealand children's literature.
In 1999, she was the Writer In Residence of the South Auckland Children's Literature Association and was awarded a project grant from Creative New Zealand.
The Fugitive Soldier: A fifteen-year-old runs away to war (Polygraphia, 2004) is the story of James, a fifteen-year-old brought up on his parents' farm. He leaves school at fourteen and is working full-time on the farm in 1917. He joins the army almost by accident. The story relates his experiences in the training camps and finally in the trenches in Belgium.
Dead Dan's Dee (Longacre Press, 2007), is the story of Dee, a soldier's daughter, who discovers a secret about her dead father. It was nominated in the junior fiction category for the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and was listed as a 2008 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.
Brother Sister Soldier Cousin, was published by Longacre in 2009.
Johnston's books 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 published the last in the series, The Fortunate Ones, in 2018, completing the story of May, Wally and their children.
Phyllis Johnston passed away in August 2021.
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
Updated February 2022.