In the expansive world of children’s literature where it seems like we have already “seen it all before”, The Big Field: A Child’s Year Under the Southern Cross by Anne Morddel is surprising unique. Immediately upon holding the book, I was drawn in by the folk art style illustrations that remind me of the beautiful tapestries that I see pop up on Antiques Roadshow now and again.
The story is even more unique.
Set in South America near the Atlantic Rainforest, the story is as much about the relationship between a rural grandmother and her three urban grandchildren as it is about the seasons and natural surroundings on the borders of the rainforest. The story is staged month-by-month, allowing readers to experience a year near the “big field [Granny] always forgets to plow.”
Morddel produces imagery that makes the surroundings feel real, from the “fog so thick the forest seems to disappear” to the “cicadas as loud as drums.” This would be a particularly good book for educators looking to introduce a South American rainforest unit to their class, as it provides a fictional introduction to flora and fauna that can be found in that area of the world.