#WorldKidLit Wednesday: In the Meadow of Fantasies

What beauty awaits when the imagination takes flight!

In the Meadow of Fantasies opens with a young girl of around 6 years of age. She is wearing a white nightdress, lying in bed. As she gazes up at a mobile of seven white galloping ponies, she murmurs “There was one, one horse. There were two, two horses . . ..”  And then she is flying on the back of a grey mount!

In this fantasy world, each of the seven horses takes on a distinct color, except one, which has no color; each horse has a home, except one, which has no home; each horse has dreams and fantasies, except one. The seventh horse doesn’t remain without for long, however; the other horses care and share. The horse that had nothing now has a coat splashed with patches of color, homes everywhere and a host of dreams in its head. And it returns to the young girl’s bedside to share all these with her.

This picture book, aimed at children ages 4-9, celebrates the rich tapestry of the imagination and the beauty of sharing with others. The horse with no color is a perfect blank canvas, enriched by its experiences and encounters in an imaginary setting; the young girl’s vivid flight of fantasy brings vibrant life and color to her world. Readers will enjoy comparing the final illustration of the young girl in her bedroom to the first one, and perhaps reflect on the parallel between the young girl and the seventh horse, as I did.

Hadi Mohammadi’s text, with its multiple repeated words, has a deceptively childlike, mesmeric quality about it that transports readers to another time and place. And Nooshin Safakhoo’s illustrations are surreal and sublime. One image shows the horses submerged in a vat of color with the young girl pushing the seventh horse (with no color) towards it; another shows the seven horses with their dreams (trees, stars, fish) sprouting from, or circling above, their heads.

As a side note, readers may notice that the young girl has a physical impairment. In the first illustration, she wears red braces on both legs and a wheelchair is tucked into the right-hand side of the page; there are also pill packets and bottles on her bedside table. Her condition is not alluded to elsewhere in either text or images, however—and the young girl is not defined or confined by it in this story.

In the Meadow of Fantasies is a beautiful picture book for all to enjoy. It has a simple childlike appeal as well as a richness and depth that invite further thought and exploration.

In the Meadow of Fantasies
Written by Hadi Mohammadi
Illustrated by Nooshin Safakhoo
Translated from Persian by Sara Khalili
Elsewhere Editions, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-939810-90-8

Originally published in Persian as Haft Asb Haft Rang in 2017.

You can buy a copy of In the Meadow of Fantasies here.*

Reviews: New York Journal of Books, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly

Awards: 2022 Batchelder Honor Book

If you’d like to see some beautiful spreads from the book, take a look at Julie Danielson’s post on 7-Imp.

*Book purchases made via our affiliate link may earn GLLI a small commission at no cost to you.

Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com

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