In the Great Meadow


32 pages
ISBN 1-55037-998-4
DDC jC813'.54






Illustrations by Jan Thornhill
Reviewed by Sheree Haughian

Sheree Haughian is a teacher-librarian in Orangeville, Ontario.


Frog-child and Snake-boy spend an idyllic day playing together in the
great meadow—until their mothers inform them that frogs and snakes are
mortal enemies. The friends, obedient to parental decree, agree to part,
but they have been enriched by their fleeting experience.

This retelling of a traditional African tale may be viewed as a kind of
social allegory about the innocence of youth, the blindness of old
prejudices, and the power of relationships to transcend cultural
barriers. The story is simple and straightforward enough to be enjoyed
by young children who may be exploring the nature of cross-cultural
sharing and problem-solving for the first time. Could Frog-child and
Snake-boy somehow have broken through the bigotry of the older
generation and continued their friendship? For older readers, this tale
can raise fascinating questions about global and ecological harmony: at
a human level, discord frequently generates destructive war; at a
natural level, conflict is part of the necessary balance of the food
chain. In the end, the narrator ponders what might have happened if
Frog-child and Snake-boy had been allowed to remain friends.

Jan Thornhill’s illustrations, charmingly vivid and framed by
colorful borders, enhance the lively text. Highly recommended.


Crease, Skid., “In the Great Meadow,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,