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.
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.