New Zealander Joyce West spent her childhood in the remote country districts where her parents taught in Maori schools. In 1978 she wrote in Twentieth Century Children’s Writers, “We lived far from towns, in a world of bush roads and river crossings; we rode horseback everywhere, and kept a large menagerie of dogs, cats, kittens, ducks, turkeys, pet lambs, and goats. . . . When I began to write, it was with the wish that I might save a little of the charm and flavour of those times and places for the children of today.” Critics and readers alike affirm the success of this wish, appreciating, in the words of Tom Fitzgibbon, “her shrewd characterization, her gift of comedy, and her racy style, [which] very satisfyingly demonstrates one type of New Zealand child who lives still very much in the English tradition.”
Joyce West’s stories with their hallmark of warm family relationships where members weather together—with both tears and laughter—the ups and downs of life provide a welcome addition to the literature available for the reading pleasure of families today. Joyce West died in 1985.