In this first collaboration between Chinese author Cao and Brazilian artist Mello—both of whom are recent Hans Christian Andersen award winners—a feather embarks on a quest to discover to whom she belongs.
From a kingfisher and cuckoo to wild geese and a peacock, the birds universally ignore Feather at first but ultimately convey the same message: she does not belong to them. The protagonist believes that finding her bird of origin will enable her to fly even higher, so she continues the journey. The creatures have distinctive voices, and the compositions fuse a sense of Asian design with a South American palette. Each bird takes center stage on the double-page spreads, a marvel of extravagant pattern against solid, vibrant backgrounds. Pottery and natural features provide occasional context. The feather is an abstract silhouette on the right border of each scene. At the climax, a kindly skylark lifts Feather to new heights but falls prey, alas, to a circling hawk. (The demise occurs offstage.) Devastated, Feather floats to Earth, where she eventually spots a parade of chicks marching into the sunshine; mother hen is missing a feather. The author wisely allows readers to ponder a potential conversation and next steps.
This Zen exploration of belonging and groundedness is further enhanced by a sensitive translation and pithy, philosophical introductions by both creators—masterful storytelling. (Picture book. 5-8)