0 Items
$0.00
Categories
Join our Newsletter

About Us / History

About Us    History    Testimonials    Book Reviews     The Author     The Illustrator     FAQs  

In 1994 Gill Pittar hand-knits a double-ended wool doll for her New Zealand-made shop in Auckland, and the Milly, Molly concept is born. There is a strong undercurrent of ill feeling in New Zealand at this time between the Maori and Europeans over land claims and settlements. The Milly, Molly product is found to have market appeal. With the doll as a primary tool, Gill sets out to promote tolerance, communication, understanding and love between people in New Zealand, and around the world.

Milly, Molly–the Reconciliation Doll for World Peace and Harmony–is conceived. Milly (dark) and Molly (fair) carry the message, "We may look different but we feel the same." All people, irrespective of race, creed or colour, share the same feelings and emotions of love, pain and grief (to name but a few).

In 1995 Milly, Molly goes through a developmental stage, and Gill designs her own pattern for knitting machines, while continuing to refine the product.

1996 sees the Milly, Molly pattern re-designed to suit computer-operated machinery–thereby reducing hands-on labour, and increasing output.
The Milly, Molly website is set up, and the dolls are marketed internationally, with the majority of interest coming from the U.S.A.

Over the next few years, Gill Pittar expands the doll's colour range to fifteen choices of pure wool dolls. Milly, Molly tea towels are manufactured in India.

Milly, Molly House is opened in Gill's home town of Gisborne, NZ to greet the new millennium, and to promote the United Nations' new millennium catch phrase–acceptance of diversity.

The Milly Molly Charitable Trust is established, under the direction of a multi-cultural Board of Trustees. Through partnerships with non-profit agencies, NGO's and international foundations, the Friends now promote the Milly, Molly message to countries that cannot afford to buy the books and dolls.

It is at this time that Gill begins writing children's stories around the characters of Milly and Molly and their multi-cultural friends. This is a major turning point, and it gives Gill the tools to touch children from all corners of the world.

In 2000, John Pittar joins the business as Managing Director, and develops a global Business Plan for Milly, Molly. It remains the template for the business today.

Gill Pittar contracts a local illustrator, Cris Morrell, to help bring the girls to life. The first four Milly, Molly books are exhibited in March 2001 at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.  Sixteen countries express firm interest in the Milly, Molly Books–for trade, and for character education purposes but John and Gill feel further improvements are necessary before a formal launch of the books.
Bologna is followed by market research for Milly, Molly dolls and books in Rome, Berlin, Paris, London, New York and Chicago.

Television New Zealand expresses firm interest in creating a children's television series. Interest is also received from a London based television producer.

The response to Milly, Molly grows as the need for ethics-based, character development children's literature becomes ever more apparent around the globe. Professor Dr. Sigrid Markmann, Dean of Literature and Linguistics at Osnabruck University, and internationally recognized developer of curriculum English in Germany and Canada, reviews the first 32 stories and gives them an outstanding endorsement. She writes:

"The underlying morals inherent within the texts are important for children of the twenty first century to take as their own... the language used to carry the stories is lively and exciting for young readers... the language and style is simply good literature... suitable as teaching texts in social studies or health programmes anywhere in the world where difference is an integral component of a community." This endorsement is now printed on the back of every Milly, Molly book.

Milly, Molly develops a sound working relationship with printers, Rhythm Consolidated Bhd., in Malaysia.

Market research, along with discussions with Canadian distributors, leads to the incorporation of Milly Molly (North America) Limited.

Milly, Molly is formally launched at the 2001 Frankfurt Book Fair in mid-October, with eight hard cover books for the trade market together with a Series of eight School Journals complete with Teaching Guides. Thirty nine countries have now expressed firm interest in Milly, Molly.

Sixteen more books are published in 2002. Attendance at several international book fairs leads to a dramatic increase in the number of international contracts for Milly, Molly. Gill Pittar is encouraged to write more Milly, Molly stories and adventures.

As the concept expands, several international markets contract for as many as forty-eight books.
Milly, Molly donates five thousand dolls to the Marine "Toys for Tots" program in New York. 3,000 dolls are distributed to the children of Afghanistan by New Zealand Army personnel. A further two thousand dolls are donated to needy children in East Timor.

Milly, Molly inks an interim agreement to produce a series with international television producer and distributor, Beyond Group.

Kate Pittar is appointed Sales and Marketing Manager, Europe.

Milly, Molly gives generously to a number of organizations. 16,000 books are donated to children in Fiji, and a further 16,000 to First National Book Bank in the United States.

16 books are now published, and Milly, Molly has contracts with 64 countries, with the stories translated into 18 languages.

Milly, Molly's Spanish and Portuguese publishers request that their contracts be extended to 64 books. Scholastic secures distribution rights for Australia and New Zealand. Design improvements are made to the dolls.

In 2004, the first Milly, Molly books are released in North America and the United Kingdom. Strong endorsements are received in both countries. Internationally recognised child psychologist Dr Myrna Shure (author of "Raising a Thinking Child") writes:

"Kids who are lucky enough to meet Milly and Molly will experience a wide variety of captivating adventures designed to help them appreciate diversity and learn to cope with challenges of life. Suitable for families worldwide, this creatively written and beautifully illustrated series gives parents a unique opportunity to help their children think about how to get along with others, and learn values that will help them become happy, competent, and successful human beings."

Best selling children's author Robert Munsch writes, simply:

"Milly, Molly is a wonderful bunch of books."

Eight more books are published, bringing the total to 48.

Contracts are signed with Heinemann South Africa, EDT of Italy, and others as Milly, Molly expands to 103 countries, and is published in 25 languages.

The Friends of Milly, Molly Inc ., a 501 (c) (3) registered charity is incorporated in the United States of America. This Trust aims to promote the acceptance of diversity and the learning of life skills through literacy–'for every child, a book.' Part of the proceeds from the sale of every book in North America goes to The Friends of Milly, Molly Inc.

At the Beijing Book Fair, Milly, Molly books and dolls receive enormous interest, and the company signs a rights agreement with Beijing Normal University Press.

Milly, Molly enters into a joint venture agreement with Singapore's Popular e-Learning Limited to produce multi-lingual interactive CD-ROMs, for the advancement of character education through literacy.

In the decade following, John and Kate attend book fairs in London, Frankfurt and Bologna, for the purpose of gathering sufficient foreign publisher support to warrant investment in a TV series. John negotiates contracts in 110 countries and 34 languages. When NZ On Air cannot provide funding the Singapore Media Development Authority, Scrawl Studios and the Australian TV production Company, Beyond, join with John & Gill’s company, Milly Molly Group Holdings Ltd to create and produce two televisions series.

Milly, Molly continues to expand and grow with partners worldwide, with the aim of touching all children worldwide, regardless of culture, creed or colour.

List of accomplishments

Globally:

  • Contracts in 110 countries
  • Translated in over 34 languages
  • 7.5 million books published worldwide
  • 2 television series screening in over 80 countries around the world
  • 66 titles published in English and foreign languages.
  • Market leading multimedia applications – Milly, Molly APPS, developed in conjunction with Kiwa Digital Ltd, are the first multi-lingual interactive children’s APPs available on the APP Store on for iPhones and iPads.
  • Milly, Molly and Alf was runner-up for the prestigious Grinzane International Children’s Award in Italy in 2007
  • Gill Pittar was invited to speak at the inaugural Biennial Literary Convention in Brasilia in April 2012 to celebrate the city's 50th Birthday. Gill was among 30 influential writers from around the world; she represented children's literature.Speech topic: ‘Learning character building and social solidarity with Milly and Molly’.
  • John Pittar was invited to write an article for the Commonwealth Education Partnerships publication, presented to the Commonwealth Conference for Education Ministers held in Mauritius in August 2012. The article focused on the importance of character education for children through good quality literature was entitled, “ ‘We are what we read’  – respect for self and others.” 

 

Locally:

  • The N.Z. Police Youth Education Services are using Milly, Molly titles in their ‘Kia Kaha’ and ‘Keep Ourselves Safe’ programmes and have done so for 6 years.
  • A joint initiative with Hubbard Foods (NZ) to promote literacy and sound values in 2009 - 60,000 Milly, Molly books were distributed in children’s cereal boxes.
  • ‘The Friends of Milly, Molly’ are presently working together with Charities on initiatives to provide disadvantaged children with reading resources to promote literacy, and to assist them in dealing appropriately with difficult situations that arise during school, home life and play.

 

Global progress has been hard won but with the encouragement and support of educators, parents and children the Milly, Molly stories continue to grow in influence internationally and in N.Z. with those who recognize the invaluable contribution they make to character education.