As a child, Phyllis Johnston wished that all children could hear the stories of her mother's past.

Now they can.

As a child, Phyllis heard story after story of fun, adventure and hardship told by her parents.

The stories enthralled young Phyllis and she hoped other young children might be lucky enough to hear such tales.


The Tauranga author started writing in her 30s what would become the May series, based on her mother May and their family. After visiting a school in Taranaki last year — where Phyllis is from — the family decided to reprint the books.

"We found that readers were paying up to $65 for a tattered second copy and children and parents were still lining up for these books to be signed," daughter Mary says.

The May series was first published in the 1980s and 1990s.

The series also acted as a social history of New Zealand from the 1900s until the end of World War II.

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 has recently completed the last in the series The Fortunate Ones.

This completes the story of May, Wally and their children.

This will be Phyllis' last book as her eyesight is not what it was. She is now 83, and has 17 young adult fiction books published, with only two unpublished.

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