One day, Claude, Shelby, William and Maya went to the seaside together.
Claude found a red feather.
It was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.
Four young children go to the beach. One finds a fine red feather which becomes his most treasured possession. He plays with it, completely entranced until he is very hungry. Then his friend Shelby offers him food in exchange for his feather. Reluctantly, he relinquishes his treasure. Shelby is then mesmerised by feather play. And so it goes, until all four children have played with the feather. But despite its marvellousness, in the end, the feather is a poor substitute for companionship. So the children play together with the feather. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour and mostly sit in white space, combining full page and vignette images. End papers show feathers red-on-white at the front, white-on-red at the back.
The Red Feather is a story about sharing. Each of the children covets the feather and at first it’s all they need. But before long, it’s not enough. Other needs overwhelm, and although each misses the wonderful feather, they trade it for something else (food, shelter). The feather seems to have altered their ability to play collaboratively, and each becomes mired in loneliness and wanting. But they resolve their dilemma and find a way to share the feather. Then they can get back to enjoying their time on the beach, playing together. The endpapers show the feather faded – perhaps not quite as valuable as when first discovered. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.
The Red Feather, Ben Kitchin & Owen Swan
New Frontier Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9780957988439
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller