Joy Cowley has introduced generations of Kiwi kids to the delights of reading.
But the world-famous author, who has written about 1100 children's books, is now stuggling to make out words in her own works after rapidly losing much of her eyesight.
"I've got just under 30 per cent vision," said Cowley, who has medication injected into her eyes every five weeks to try to prevent further loss of sight.
"They tell me that I probably won't go completely blind."
Cowley, 82, said she noticed something was wrong last August when a lamp post she was looking at appeared "bowed and wobbly".
"Something was wrong with my eyes.
"I went to the optician, who promptly sent me to an opthalmologist for injections."
She was diagnosed with macular degeneration, initially in her right eye.
"And then the other [eye] went the same way. It happened quite quickly."
Cowley, who lives in Featherston, said both sides of her family had a history of the condition, which can result in blurred or no vision in the centre of the visual field.
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Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe vision loss and is estimated to affect more than 200,000 New Zealanders.
One in seven Kiwis over the age of 50 is affected by it in some way, and one in four over the age of 80 have some vision loss.
Cowley now uses a magnifying glass from the Blind Foundation to help make out words in small print and blows up emails and text on the computer to between 24 and 36-point to read them.
"It's probably going up to 48-point fairly soon."
But she still enjoys reading and listens to audio books instead.
"I chose non-fiction and I've heard some great books."
The author of about 1100 reading books for children, 50 picture books and seven adult novels, and whose works have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, does not intend to stop writing.
"I can still use the computer with large font, but I'm hoping to get on to voice production.
"There are programmes [where] you can dictate, and then [it] will read it back to you so you can edit."
Cowley said her eyesight issues definitely weren't affecting her creativity.
If she did not have an outlet for the ideas running around in her head, "I'd probably explode", she said.
She has just started work on a new novel, an adult book about a woman who becomes bedridden after an accident.
"Her larynx is damaged, and after a while people talk about her as though she isn't in the room," Cowley said.
"But her other senses become sharper and not only do fragmented memories coalesce to form meaning, but her connection with her environment changes dramatically.
"The first lines I jotted down a few days ago are: 'I am unable to speak. My mind is a crowded railway station without trains...'
"The book will be called Silence and is inspired by heightened senses that have evolved with diminished vision."
That was true in her own case, with Cowley saying she now has a heightened sense of feeling.
"Touch has become much more refined. And although my hearing isn't great, the awareness of what I hear is heightened. I'm much better at interpreting noise."
Cowley was made a member of the Order of New Zealand, the country's highest royal award, in the New Year Honours last year.
It is restricted to 20 living members, and includes singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former All Black Richie McCaw.
Cowley's appointment, for services to New Zealand, acknowledged the tremendous impact she has had on literature and literacy. Her vast back catalogue makes her one of our most successful and prolific authors.
She revealed at the time how she had emphasised the need for children to see themselves in the books they read.
Helping children with reading difficulties, she discovered they had "switched off".
"They had met failure too many times to put themselves at risk again. You put a book in front of them and the body language was explicit, they'd just freeze up. So we used to do story talk – If you could have any birthday party you'd like, what would it be like?
"And then [I'd] find a story that was theirs, and write it out.
"And no child was ever reluctant to read something or to try and read something that had meaning and that they owned."