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LALI'S FEATHER by Farhana Zia


by Farhana Zia ; illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

Pub Date: April 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-68263-129-4
Publisher: Peachtree

In Lali’s hands, an ordinary feather becomes something fantastic.

When Lali first finds a feather in a field, she asks all the birds she knows if it belongs to them. But Rooster, Crow, and Peacock don’t claim it, so Lali takes it for herself. At first, birds such as Chicken, Duck, and Jay laugh at her feather, until Lali shows them all the magical things it can do: write a note, sweep the floor, tickle her father, and make her sister sneeze. A strong gust of wind swooshes Lali’s feather away, leaving her devastated. By now, all the birds are eager to help. The book happily ends with Lali discovering another discarded object—one that promises a whole new set of adventures. Zia expertly code-switches between Indian language–inspired slang and standard English, rendering the narratorial voice pleasantly distinct. The illustrations continue this cultural mix: Brown-skinned Lali wears a bindi on her forehead, a traditional Indian blouse, gold bangles, and fluorescent orange shorts. The author’s use of the rule of threes—three birds turn down Lali’s feather, followed by three birds who discount her feather’s usefulness—strikes a beautifully balanced storyline that is predictable yet surprising. The pictures accompanying the text are full of color and motion, depicting a lush, rural landscape and perfectly supporting the quick-moving protagonist.

Three cheers for this feisty girl of color and her big imagination.

(Picture book. 3-6)