A 1969 picture book treasure written by the renowned New Zealand author Margaret Mahy.
Published by: Puffin Books
Age: 3 – 7 years
Opening Lines: The little boy said, “Mother, there is a lion in the meadow.” The mother said, “Nonsense, little boy.”
Synopsis: This is a story about a little boy who is afraid of the lion that is in the meadow; his mother does not believe him and gives him a matchbox, telling him: there is a dragon in there that will grow bigger when you let him out; he will scare the lion away. The little boy does this and the lion retreats into the kitchen broom closet, the little boy follows. A delightful conversation between the mother and boy on the fictive nature of the dragon ensues. The boy and the lion become friends in the closet and exit to play on the other side of the meadow. The twist is in seeing the child in bed with Mum reading the story and although the lion is sitting on the bed one wonders was the story true? I’ll leave that to you.
Why I like it: Simple, sparse, text and soft colourful pencil drawings bring to life the imagination of both Mother and child in this sweet story. Each full page picture will keep the young entertained while being read aloud to. The lion while looking big and frightening at first, is portrayed as gentle and only eats apples. This I loved. Many of Margaret’s books feature fanciful situations blending with the normal everyday, the use of imagination and humour. This story won the NZ Esther Glen Medal in 1969. It was an American Editor who discovered this story and eventually published this and a few others leading to the start of her career as a writer. Magical, adventurous and often hilarous, I read somewhere that one reviewer was quoted as saying, “this is one book I would grab if the house was burning down.”
Today 11 August in New Zealand, and Australia and indeed around the world authors, readers and those who loved her work paid tribute by wearing colourful wigs, dressing up and reading her books in libraries or held other projects to celebrate her work. This is expected to be an annual event here in New Zealand. Hugely generous of her time for others and loved giving talks, interviews and visits to schools, she usually appeared dressed with coloured wigs and costumes of her characters.
Findings/Resources: Here are is a website of her bio, awards and answers to children’s questions and her books. http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/mahym.html
I will be reviewing another of Margaret Mahy’s picture books later on. For now, I will be on holiday visiting family. See you all soon.