Joy Cowley is a prolific writer of children's fiction, novels, and short stories. Her first adult novel, Nest in a Fallen Tree (1967), was adapted into a film by screenwriter Roald Dahl.
Cowley is best-known for her remarkable range of children’s books which are a mainstay of New Zealand’s school reading programme and are used in 70% of United States’ schools. Much of her life has been spent overseas; visiting schools, running writing workshops, and working with teachers on early reading difficulties. Her influence has extended to Asia and in small villages in South Africa where she has written books culturally appropriate for young readers. ‘A book should be like a mirror which tells children how brave and beautiful they are,’ she says.
Cowley was made a DCNZM in 2005 for services to children's literature.