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Beames, Margaret


Margaret Beames is a children's author whose imaginative narratives draw young readers into worlds of drama and suspense. A prolific writer, Beames has published forty books for children since her first, The Greenstone Summer, in 1977. Several titles have been published in Australia and the UK. She won the Picture Book and Children's Choice categories at the 2001 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, and, since 1987, has been a finalist several times in the same awards. Beames has also written drama for stage and radio.


Place of residence: Feilding, New Zealand
Primary publisher:
Scholastic New Zealand
Rights enquiries:
Richards Literary Agency, P.O. Box 31240, North Shore City 0741
Publicity enquiries:
As above


Beames, Margaret (1935 –) is a children's writer whose rich imaginative narratives draw her young readers into worlds of drama and suspense.

A prolific writer, Beames has published forty books for children since her first, The Greenstone Summer, in 1977. Titles include Hidden Valley (1983); The Plant That Grew and Grew... (1984); The Parkhurst Boys (1986); Clown Magic (1989); The Glass Tower (1991); The Girl in Blue (1993); The Archway Arrow (1996); and The Shearwater Bell (1997). Several titles have been published in Australia and the UK.

Storm was published in 1999. ‘Nine to twelve year olds will want to read this all in one go — great torch-under-the-blankets stuff.’ Outlanders was published the following year.

Beames has also written drama for stage and radio, and, with Karen Scotson, published a book for adults, Karen: Her Fight Against Leukemia (1988).

Oliver in the Garden (2000), illustrated by Sue Hitchcock, won Best Picture Book and the Children's Choice Award at the 2001 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Outlanders was shortlisted in the senior fiction category.

Beames' book Pumpkin Pie (2000) is self-published and is available from the author: It is also available as a pantomime from Playmarket. Duster (2002) is a young, scruffy dog found by Fliss. Fliss lives in an apartment but she is determined to keep him. Oliver’s Party (2003) features illustrations by Sue Hitchcock. Life can be most unfair for a cat — but a party can make up for everything.

Duster was included in the 2003 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction list.

Joseph's Bear (Lothian, 2004) tells the story of a boys search for his father in the war ravaged Germany of 1948. Her young adult novel Spirit of the Deep (Lothian) was published in 2006, and was listed as as 2007 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book. Beames released The Mouse that Danced (Scholastic) in 2007. It is a heart-warming story of a mouse who danced across the city, never suspecting home was the best place to be after all.

Oliver Goes Exploring (Scholastic, 2008) has our favourite cat on an exploration of the spare paddock next door. Illustrated by Sue Hitchcock. Beames returns to the junior fiction genre with The Singing Cave (Scholastic, 2009), a story where reality meets unreality in a cave on an idyllic Pacific Island.

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writers in schools information

Margaret Beames is no longer able to participate in the Writers in Schools programme. The following questions and answers are provided as a resource only.

KAPAI: Kids Authors Pictures and Information

Where do you live?

What sort of books do you like to read?

Modern, ‘real-life’ fiction, fantasy, biography, travel.

How do you think up your ideas?
I don’t ‘think them up’. They come into my head, triggered by something I’ve seen, heard, read or remembered.

What is the best thing about being an author?
Being free to make up my own stories, in my own way, in my own time.

Some Questions from Primary School Students

Do you have a pet?
No, although until recently I had a golden retriever called Jemma.

A favourite colour?

Do you have any favourite foods?
Fresh home-baked bread, crispy apples, chocolate (and lots more)

Do you have any favourite games or sports?
Cricket, but I’m a spectator only. I don’t play any sport.

Where do you like to go for your holidays?
Any quiet beach or bush area. I like to travel overseas when I can afford it.

What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?

Walked out one day and went to the pictures – but it wasn’t as much fun as I expected.

Some Questions from Secondary School Students

How did you get started as a writer?
I could not get a job and was bored at home, so I wrote to keep busy and to amuse myself. I just invented a family and made up an adventure for them.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer?
Write something every day if you can, even if it’s just a diary, and read, read, read.

Is it difficult to make a living writing in New Zealand?
Yes. Most writers need a second job. Our small population means writers need to sell their books overseas as well.

What were you like as a teenager?
Shy and quiet, a watcher and observer rather than a leader. I didn’t have a real boyfriend until I was seventeen – 5 years later I married him!

Are they any other things about your life that you’d like to tell us?

I lived in Kenya for 2 years. I had some wonderful experiences and saw many varieties of wildlife. On the way home from a weekend in a game park, our car broke down and we had to spend the night in it. Only one other vehicle passed, but the people stopped and took a message to friends in Nairobi to come and rescue us. In the morning there were footprints of a large animal beside the car. I wonder what?

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Media links and clips

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Wellington 6011, New Zealand