'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 9 April 2018

Review: The Feather

Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood have created an  evocative and spell-binding story with their new book, The Feather.

Hard working children, Maria and Nico's washing day is interrupted by a huge feather falling from the sky into their yard. Upon inspection it reminds Maria of the mystical stories from long ago, when the sky used to be blue. Both children instantly recognise the importance of this discovery.

The children want to keep the feather safe, but Maria knows that it doesn't belong, locked away, inside a building. They decided to take it to the village. As Maris and Nico carry the feather into the village their hearts are filled with lightness, joy and hope.

When the villagers see this rare and precious object, they too remember a begone era of light and blue sky. The leaders of the town acknowledge the feather as an important treasure, hence it needs to be preserved and protected. These powerful men, the doctor, lawyer and mayor, consider encasing the feather behind glass in a museum or locking it away in a dark bank vault.

The villagers clamour with desperateness to touch the feather, their source of hope. Upon the touch of the adult's darkness and inner hopelessness, the feather becomes tainted, making it dull and heavy. The children take the soiled feather home to nurture it and keep it safe. Will the feather be able recover and return to it's serene, soft, silky, lightness again?

The Feather is spectacular and insightful story about darkness and light, joy and suffering, and hope and despair. The story shows how children have an amazing ability to see more clearly than adults. The adults in this story don't understand that the feather will loose its brilliance if imprisoned, that it is hard to hope without freedom and choices.

Wild has deliberately left many parts of the story open-ended to allow for discovery and discussion. She does not explain how the village came to look dilapidated. The village may have been neglected, war-torn or be from a dystopian world. Wild creates a powerful story with her choice of sentence length and words, words like; serene, joyous, unmoored, sinks and flutters.

Blackwood's illustrations are captivating and emotional. She has used a very restrained palette creating an environment that is gloomy and shadowy, except for the glow around the white feather. Blackwood expertly emphasises the importance and mystical nature of white feather, by making it larger than any bird that we have knowledge of. I always like Blackwood's signature use of the colours, orange and red, to attract the reader's attention, creating a brightness and warmth that is needed amongst the dull shadows.

Both, Wild and Balckwood, have masterfully created readers time to breathe and digest the atmosphere of the story by including three, wordless, double page spreads. Please make the time to read The Feather, to absorb the words, images and the deeper message that it can bring to your life.

Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood have previously collaborated to create the story, The Treasure Box which was shortlisted for the CBCA The Picture Book of The Year Award in 2014.

Title: The Feather
Author: Margaret Wild
Illustrator: Freya Blackwood
Publisher: Little Hare, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 February 2018
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760124212
For ages: 6+
Type: Picture Books