March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Feather by Cao Wenxuan | SLJ Review

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redstarWENXUAN, Cao. Feather. tr. from Chinese by Chloe Garcia Roberts. illus. by Roger Mello. 40p. Steerforth. Sept. 2017. Tr $18. ISBN 9780914671855.

PreS-Gr 2 –Wenxuan has created a picture book that tells the hopeful tale of a single feather as it embarks on a journey to find out where it came from and where it belongs. As a feather, it travels on the wind without a particular direction, but it hopes to discover a personal connection to the world. Along the way, the feather meets many different birds and asks, “Do I belong to you?” Again and again it is rebuffed by kingfisher, magpie, heron, and others, but never loses hope. Finally, the realization that there may never be an answer is calmly accepted as it meets its fate in the talons of a hawk. Wenxuan is a professor of literature at Peking University and winner of the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award. In this folktale, he recognizes that searching does not always end in an expected result, but is still a valuable quest for truth. The story is enhanced by the incomparable illustrations of Roger Mello, who has created strikingly beautiful spreads of the feather’s encounter with each of the birds it meets. He highlights their gorgeous plumage including the tail of the peacock and the wings of the geese and then places them strategically on dynamic, full-color backgrounds that match this adventure of discovery. Garcia-Roberts has deftly translated this tale from the original Chinese with language that truly captures the poignancy of never giving up on your search for truth. “If I belonged to a bird, I could fly even higher!” VERDICT An amazing picture book that could be paired with classic titles, used to introduce a bird unit on adaptations, or just shared as the wonderful read-aloud it is. Highly recommended.–Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2017 issue.



  1. I was concerned that this book would not be appropriate for young kids because of the bloodshed in it. It’s kind of scary!

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