A simple and deeply discussable message about hope and faith.

THE FEATHER

A feather drifts into the lives of two children and a village of dispirited adults in this allegory of hope in the face of darkness.

Maria and Nico are washing and hanging their laundry outside a small house when a large feather appears, floating down from a brown, sunless sky. “It reminds Maria of olden-day pictures of how the sky once looked,” and of rain and wind. The children carry the feather (“light as thistledown”) through the woods and to a village seen from above as a collection of broken buildings, abandoned vehicles, and empty streets. The villagers are equally entranced, remembering clouds and bright skies. But three older men, figures of authority—a doctor, a lawyer, the mayor—suggest locking away this valuable reminder of better times. When the feather takes on a leaden hue and weight, it is dismissed, along with the children. Maria and Nico’s optimism restores the feather to its lightness when they bring it back to their home, sleep cuddled next to it, and finally launch it back into the sky. Blackwood’s delicate scenes, gentle pencil lines, and subtle shades of gray and brown convey the sense of loss in the village and the subtle breaks in the dense cover of cloud that allow the feather to soar. Maria, Nico, and the rest of the villagers appear white.

A simple and deeply discussable message about hope and faith. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-76012-421-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Hare/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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