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Martyn Godfrey

Until his sudden and unexpected death at the age of 51 from liver disease in 2000, Martyn Godfrey had been one of Canada's most popular authors or children's and young-adult literature.

Since his first publication in 1981, the St. Albert, Alta.-based Godfrey gained a worldwide audience, with several of his 37 books selling in the hundreds of thousands. He won two awards for Here She Is, Ms. Teeny-Wonderful (one of four books in the Carol and Wally series); was runner-up for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for his historical novel, Mystery in the Frozen Lands; and winner of the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award for Can You Teach Me to Pick My Nose?
 Featured Audio

Arts Alberta #299
In this episode of Arts Alberta, broadcast Jan. 31, 1988, the
author, former teacher and president of the Writers Guild
of Alberta is interviewed about 1988 Olympic Writers Fest
and Book Fair in Calgary.

He describes how literature was part of the Olympics, past
and present, and how the book fair could show children to appreciate good writing and the importance in promoting
literature. Godfrey also discusses the Free Trade Agreement
and how it positively affects children's literature by increasing
the availability of books for young readers.
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In Alberta, where Chrysalis, a month-long children's literature festival runs throughout the province each fall, Godfrey was the writer most in demand in the schools and libraries that hosted readings.
Godfrey's books focused on the uncomfortable teen years, the upper elementary/junior-high school period of adjustment. "Kids, teachers and librarians knew Martyn really loved his audience," says Lyle Weis, his writing partner in the Flash Fiction series. "His heart went out to the average kid who was confused in the face of a challenge."

While his books and readings were widely known, one publication seemed to have missed the attention of his readership: Discovering Dinosaurs, a comic book for a 1997 historical series from McClelland & Stewart distributed in McDonalds restaurants. Set in the Alberta Badlands, the comic told the story of the 1884 discovery of dinosaur fossils by Geological Survey explorer Joseph Tyrrell.
His stand-up comic attitude also attracted children to his writing workshops such as YouthWrite, sponsored by the Alberta Writers Guild for students during the summer.

In September 2002, the Martyn Godfrey Young Writers' Awards were announced to carry forward the legacy of this very humorous author. Writers in Grades 7 to 9 were to write a humorous piece of between 500 and 1,500 words. It could be fiction or non-fiction, fantasy or reality-based, an essay or an opinion. As Godfrey's daughter Selby said when the award was announced, there was but one rule: the piece had to be funny, because "Dad was a very funny guy."

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