In the Meadow of Fantasies by Hadi Mohammadi, illustrated by Nooshin Safahoo, translated by Sara Khalili. Elsewhere Editions, c2017, 2021. 9781939810908
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
Format: ARC, publication date November 2, 2021
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Delicate pen-and-ink drawings filled with watercolor wash relate a dreamy story of a little girl confined to bed. Next to the bed is a wheelchair and a collection of pill bottles. The girl’s legs are encased in splints, but a spinning mobile of horses overhead provides comfort and diversion. Of the seven horses, one is always singled out over the course of the pages: it has no colors, no dreams, no place to live, until the other six share. The little girl appears enraptured and cheered by the attention of the colorful horse, who returns to her at the end of the tale. This circle story was translated from Persian. I did like the illustrations, which were gently bizarre without being off-putting. I especially enjoyed the animals arrayed at a dinner table with plates of grass, each with their fanciful dreams erupting from the heads. One dreams of leaping fish, another sports a full tree as headgear while a third holds up the moon and stars. The little girl is White with long, black hair. Backmatter includes first person biographies of the creators, which do not illuminate the story.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No. It was odd and I wasn’t sure I understood the point, but I enjoyed looking at the pictures.
To whom would you recommend this book? It’s possible the story would appeal to families looking for stories with a Persian sensibility. Or young readers who dream of having a magical horse. This story could also anchor a discussion about disabilities and the pain of being left out or behind.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: August 21, 2021