Mayo, Margaret 1935–

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MAYO, Margaret 1935–

(Margaret Mary Mayo)

PERSONAL:

Born May 10, 1935, in London, England; daughter of William John and Anna Cumming; married Peter Robin Mayo (a university lecturer), July 26, 1958; children: Roderick, Katrina, Andrew. Education: University of Southampton, B.Sc. (with honors), 1956, certificate in education, 1957.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Brighton, Sussex, England.

CAREER:

Writer, 1974—. Teacher at numerous schools in England, 1957-61, 1969-71, 1973-75, and 1975-80.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Aesop Accolade, Children's Folklore Society, American Folklore Society, for When the World Was Young: Creation and Pourquois Tales, 1996.

WRITINGS:

(Compiler) If You Should Meet a Crocodile and Other Verse, illustrated by Carol Barker, Kaye & Ward (London, England), 1974.

(Reteller) The Book of Magical Horses, illustrated by Victor Ambrus, Kaye & Ward (London, England), 1976, Hastings House (New York, NY), 1977.

(Reteller) The Book of Magical Birds, illustrated by Fiona French, Kaye & Ward (London, England), 1977.

(Reteller) The Book of Magical Cats, illustrated by Victor Ambrus, Kaye & Ward (London, England), 1978.

Saints, Birds, and Beasts, illustrated by Cara Lockhart Smith, Kaye & Ward (London, England), 1980.

The Italian Fairy Book, illustrated by Cara Lockhart Smith, Kaye & Ward (London, England), 1981.

Fairy Tales from France, illustrated by Cara Lockhart Smith, Kaye & Ward (London, England), 1983.

Little Mouse Twitchy Whiskers (picture book), illustrated by Penny Dann, Orchard Books (London, England), 1992.

(Reteller) Magical Tales from Many Lands, Dutton (New York, NY), 1993, published as The Orchard Book of Magical Tales, illustrated by Jane Ray, Orchard Books (London, England), 1993.

(Reteller) How to Count Crocodiles and Other Animal Stories, illustrated by Emily Bolam, Orion Books (London, England), 1994, published as Tortoise's Flying Lesson: Animal Stories, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1995.

(Reteller) First Fairy Tales, illustrated by Selina Young, Orchard Books (London, England), 1994, Barnes & Noble Books (New York, NY), 1996.

(Reteller) The Orchard Book of Creation Stories, illustrated by Louise Brierley, Orchard Books (London, England), 1995, published as When the World Was Young: Creation and Pourquois Tales, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.

(Reteller) The Orchard Book of Mythical Birds and Beasts, illustrated by Jane Ray, Orchard Books (London, England), 1996, published as Mythical Birds and Beasts from Many Lands, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997, published as The Orchard Book of the Unicorn and Other Magical Animals, Orchard Books (London, England), 2001.

(Reteller) How Earth Was Made; Why People Shouldn't Be So Greedy, Orchard Books (London, England), 1998.

(Reteller) How the Sun Was Made; Why the Moon Appears at Night; How People Were Given Fire, Orchard Books (London, England), 1998.

(Reteller) How Men and Women Were Made; Why People Do Not Live Forever; Why the Sun Travels Slowly, Orchard Books (London, England), 1998.

(Reteller) First Bible Stories, illustrated by Nicola Smee, Barron's (Hauppauge, NY), 1998.

(Reteller) Why the Sea Is Salt; Why People Come in Different Colours, Orchard Books (London, England), 1998.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon: The Story of St. Francis, Orion Books (London, England), 1999, published as Brother Sun, Sister Moon: The Life and Stories of St. Francis, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 2000.

Sleepytime Stories (picture book), illustrated by Penny Dann, Orchard Books (London, England), 1999.

Plum Pudding: Stories, Rhymes, and Fun for the Very Young (picture book), Orchard Books (London, England), 2000, published as Wiggle Waggle Fun: Stories and Rhymes for the Very Very Young (picture book), Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2002, published as The Orchard Book of Favourite Stories and Poems, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

Dig, Dig, Digging (picture book), illustrated by Alex Ayliffe, Orchard Books (London, England), 2001, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.

(Reteller) Cinderella, Orchard Books (London, England), 2002.

(Reteller) Hansel and Gretel, Orchard Books (London, England), 2002.

(Reteller) Jack and the Beanstalk, Orchard Books (London, England), 2002.

(Reteller) Rumpelstiltskin, Orchard Books (London, England), 2002.

(Reteller) Sleeping Beauty, Orchard Books (London, England), 2002.

(Reteller) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Orchard Books (London, England), 2002.

Emergency! (picture book), illustrated by Alex Ayliffe, Orchard Books (London, England), 2002, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.

Hoddley Poddley, 2003, published as The Orchard Book of Favourite Rhymes and Verse, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) Unanana and the Enormous Elephant; and, The Feathered Snake, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) The Incredible Thunderbird; and, Baba Yaga Bony-legs, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) The Giant Sea Serpent; and, The Unicorn, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) The Fiery Phoenix, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) The Man-Eating Minotaur; and, The Magic Fruit, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) The Magical Mermaid; and, Kate Crackernuts, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) The Daring Dragon; and, The Kingdom under the Sea, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

(Reteller) Pegasus and the Proud Prince; and, The Flying Carpet, Orchard Books (London, England), 2003.

Choo Choo Clickety-Clack!, illustrated by Alex Ayliffe, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.

(Reteller) The Frog Prince, Orchard Books (London, England), 2005.

Roar! (picture book), illustrated by Alex Ayliffe, Carolrhoda Books (Minneapolis, MN), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Margaret Mayo's contribution to children's literature comes in a familiar form: the folktale collection. Yet Mayo's work is distinguished by her careful selection of little-known but delightful tales from around the world, talent for engaging narration, and passion for her work. Mayo is intent on preserving the oral tradition of storytelling and unique stories that merit attention from contemporary children. She once told CA that she selects "stories that have passed the most difficult of tests—the test of time," and that "can still entertain and satisfy emotionally like no others. They are a precious part of our common heritage, and if our children are also to share it, then the tales must be told afresh to them."

Mayo began her career as a writer for children in the mid-1970s with If You Should Meet a Crocodile and Other Verse. This book is a compilation of short rhymes, poems, and limericks written by both famous and anonymous poets. According to a critic writing in Growing Point, this book was "designed for the very young." Mayo's first book for older readers is a retelling of thirteen fairy tales about horses. The Book of Magical Horses tells of an enchanted mule, a winged horse, and even a water horse. A reviewer for Junior Bookshelf described the stories as "typically vigorous and full of action," and a Booklist contributor wrote that they are "told in an assured, conventional style." Mayo spent the last years of the seventies working on similar collections featuring magical birds and cats.

Saints, Birds, and Beasts tells the stories of sixteen saints with an emphasis on their relationships with animals. St. Jerome deals with a lion, St. Ailbe is raised by a wolf, and St. George fights his fabled dragon. In addition to the tales, Mayo provides brief biographies of the saints. According to a Junior Bookshelf contributor, the work displays "Mayo's considerable gifts as a storyteller." Brother Sun, Sister Moon: The Life and Stories of St. Francis contains several stories about a single saint, who was born into luxury and called to a life of poverty and charity. The collection includes the familiar stories about St. Francis of Assisi, such as the one about St. Francis preaching to the birds, and several lesser known tales as well. It includes an age-appropriate biography of the saint, along with a poem attributed to St. Francis himself.

The emphasis of Magical Tales from Many Lands is the magic that works wonders for people around the world, from Arabians and Australians to Zulus. There is a story about a king from the Caribbean, a Baba Yaga tale from Russia, a Native American tale about the morning star, a story from Peru and another from China. "The stories read aloud well," observed Carolyn Phelan in a Booklist review. A critic writing in Kirkus Reviews described the book as a "remarkably felicitous collection" and especially noted Mayo's story selection: "Mayo has chosen splendidly." A Publishers Weekly contributor appreciated Mayo's "lively vocabulary" and "fine sense of theater." According to this critic, the collection is "a winner" whether read piece by piece or all at once. "Mayo's book will work its magic on all who open it," predicted Barbara Chatton in School Library Journal. The retold How to Count Crocodiles and Other Animal Stories, like Mayo's earlier work, If You Should Meet a Crocodile and Other Verse, is a collection for young children. According to Magpies contributor Nola Allen, these stories are told with "exuberance." Eight stories, from Africa, Indonesia, Japan, and other countries, feature a monkey, an eagle, a tortoise, crocodiles, rabbits, elephants, a hippopotamus, bears, a lion, and other animals. The tales, reported a Junior Bookshelf critic, "include many amusing incidents, animal noises, tricks and games." The collection, published in the United States as Tortoise's Flying Lesson: Animal Stories, "brims with both vigor and cheer," wrote a contributor to Publishers Weekly. "What an engaging collection!" exclaimed Harriett Fargnoli in a School Library Journal review.

When the World Was Young: Creation and Pourquois Tales received similar attention. This book contains ten retold tales that explain some familiar aspect of life on Earth. Like Mayo's other collections, this one is multi-cultural. There is a Native American story that explains how fire gets in trees, a Polynesian story about the sun, a tale from Ghana about human skin color, a tale from Iceland about salt in the sea, and one from Egypt which tells how the moon came to the sky. The work comes with a foreword and source notes. According to Susan Hepler in a School Library Journal review, Mayo speaks to her audience and offers "connections for today's youngsters." Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer described Mayo's retellings as "lively" and "suspenseful" and called her a "masterful" storyteller.

Mythical Birds and Beasts from Many Lands provides ten retold tales of fantastic creatures from dragons to unicorns. A Thunderbird from Native American folklore and an ancient Aztec Quetzalcoatl are featured along with mermaids, serpents, and familiar creatures from Greek mythology. Once again, Mayo's storytelling talents were praised by critics. "Mayo lends the oral cadence of a storyteller's voice to these tales of enchantment," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. In a Publishers Weekly review, a critic stated, "Mayo's energetically paced versions possess a lively intensity that never fails to entertain."

Mayo recently told CA: "My recent writing has been for the very young and is the happy outcome of the arrival of three grandchildren. Dig Dig Digging and Emergency! in particular had their origin in my grandson Jack's fascination with vehicles and love of rhyme and word play."

These titles and a third, Choo Choo Clickety Clack!, are about work vehicles, emergency vehicles, and an eclectic assemblage of the vehicles of land, sea, and sky. The books are full of action: action words brimming with onomatopoeia and energy, typography that amplifies the impact of the sounds, and vibrant illustrations by Alex Ayliffe bursting from page spreads full of color. In each book, though, day's end finds the vehicles "at home," silent, engines off, ready to rest in the deep shade of evening. A Kirkus Reviews contributor predicted that even the youngest children "will find much to like in these busy scenes," and Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper had a recommendation for adults as well: "What fun this will be to read aloud."

Mayo later told CA: "My favourite book is usually the latest—when it is all wrapped up and ready for publication. At the moment it is Roar!, another picture book with Alex Ayliffe. Once again, in juicy, fun words and glorious colour, we are celebrating. This time our subject is not modern vehicles, but wild animals and what they love to do."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, November 15, 1977, review of The Book of Magical Horses, p. 552; November 1, 1993, Carolyn Phelan, review of Magical Tales from Many Lands, p. 517; September 1, 1996, Karen Morgan, review of When the World Was Young: Creation and Pourquoi Tales, pp. 122-23; March 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Brother Sun, Sister Moon: The Life and Stories of St. Francis, p. 1242; February 15, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Choo Choo Clickety-Clack!, p. 1079.

Growing Point, April, 1975, review of If You Should Meet a Crocodile and Other Verse, p. 2605; November, 1977, review of The Book of Magical Birds, p. 3203.

Horn Book, January-February, 1994, Mary M. Burns, review of Magical Tales from Many Lands, pp. 77-78; May, 2000, review of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, p. 336.

Junior Bookshelf, August, 1976, review of The Book of Magical Horses, p. 207; December, 1978, review of The Book of Magical Cats, p. 302; February, 1981, review of Saints, Birds, and Beasts, p. 23; June, 1995, review of How to Count Crocodiles and Other Animal Stories, p. 101.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1993, review of Magical Tales from Many Lands, p. 1148; May 1, 1997, review of Mythical Birds and Beasts from Many Lands, p. 725; December 1, 2001, review of Wiggle Waggle Fun: Stories and Rhymes for the Very Very Young, p. 1687; April 15, 2002, review of Dig, Dig, Digging, p. 574; August 15, 2002, review of Emergency!, p. 1229; March 15, 2005, review of Choo Choo Clickety-Clack, p. 354.

Magpies, May, 1995, Nola Allen, review of How to Count Crocodiles and Other Animal Stories, p. 29.

Publishers Weekly, September 6, 1993, review of Magical Tales from Many Lands, p. 91; May 1, 1995, review of Tortoise's Flying Lesson: Animal Stories, pp. 58-59; October 21, 1996, review of When the World Was Young: Creation and Pourquois Tales, p. 85; April 14, 1997, review of Mythical Birds and Beasts from Many Lands, p. 73.

School Library Journal, May, 1993, p. 57; September, 1993, Barbara Chatton, review of Magical Tales from Many Lands, p. 226; May, 1995, Harriet Fargnoli, review of Tortoise's Flying Lesson, p. 101; December, 1996, Susan Hepler, review of When the World Was Young, p. 116; January, 2002, Melinda Piehler, review of Wiggle Waggle Fun, p. 121; May, 2002, Alice Casey Smith, review of Dig, Dig, Digging, p. 141; October, 2002, Lisa Dennis, review of Emergency!, p. 120.

Times Educational Supplement, September 30, 1983, review of Fairy Tales from France, p. 48.

Times Literary Supplement, December 1, 1989, Bernard O'Donoghue, review of The Peepshow Girl, p. 1336.

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Mayo, Margaret 1935–

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