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?
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.
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.
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."