A lion in the meadow by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Jenny Williams (1969)

Margaret Mahy is a New Zealand treasure. I have a very embarrassing story about meeting her once. Years ago at a Children’s Librarians conference in Christchurch, I was wearing a skirt with a pavlova tea-towel as the front panel. All day people had been chatting to me about my skirt and by the evening, after a day of intense conferencing, I was a bit over it. An unknown lady struck up a conversation, “Wow, what a great story you could write about a skirt that was looking for a…” Normally this would have been my absolute cup of tea, but I just smiled and nodded and slunk away. A colleague bounced over and said, “Wasn’t it exciting that Margaret chatted to you?” I mumbled, “Margaret?” as the pieces fell sadly into place. It was all a bit late by then, she was surrounded by admiring fans and I was left feeling like I’d missed a great opportunity to bond with one of my heroes.Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Today’s lesson people, if anyone talks to you about your pavlova skirt, give them a great big hug and tell them you love them.

A lion in the meadow is a book I remember having read to me as a child and in turn I’ve shared it with my nieces and nephews and various preschool audiences. Published originally in the 60s, the illustrations have a gloriously retro vibe.

A small boy excitedly spies a lion in the meadow behind his house. His mother’s response? “Nonsense, little boy.” Eventually she offers him a terrible solution to the problem. “Little boy, you are making up stories – so I will make up a story, too… Do you see this matchbox? Take it out into the meadow and open it. In it will be a tiny dragon. The tiny dragon will grow into a big dragon. It will chase the lion away.”

Does this woman know nothing about the power of the imagination? Luckily everything works out rather merrily and companionably. Margaret Mahy was a woman with a fabulous imagination and a magical ability to tell a great story. For any non-kiwis, be sure to hunt her out.

Check out A lion in the meadow at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy A lion in the meadow from Fishpond.


4 thoughts on “A lion in the meadow by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Jenny Williams (1969)

  1. That’s a gorgeous story about your pavlova skirt. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit it here, but while I’ve only read a couple of Margaret’s books (The Changeover and The Lion in the Meadow), I didn’t quite get them. I need to read more of her work.

    • Hi Louise,
      so pleased to no longer be the only one admitting things on here! And I’ve heard other people say the exact same thing about Margaret Mahy. For children’s fiction try, “The great piratical rumbustification” and for a picture book, “Down the back of the chair” is lots of fun.

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