In Kaplan’s (The Power of a Teacup, 2003) children’s book, a young wren learns to fly, sing, and build a family, finding independence, faith, love, and the wisdom of the ancients in the process.
Little Feather gets his name because he’s very tiny, even for a wren. In spite of his size, however, the young fledgling has an adventurous spirit and is impatient to find out how to fly and sing as he listens to Momma Bird warble the songs of his grandfathers’ adventures. As he matures, he achieves his goals with the help of a number of wren friends who serve as mentors and spiritual guides. Lady Dry Feather, for example, helps him gain the confidence to fly when he’s “heavy with doubt.” Tender Wing helps him to overcome his frustration with being unable to sing so that he can perform a mating song that attracts Little Sweet Feather, with whom he later makes a nest to welcome their child, Little Pink Feather. Still, Little Feather feels an urgency to find something more, so he visits the “ancestor tree,” where an owl named Wise Wing offers the most important advice of all: “We might not always feel right, but we need never be alone.” In a preface, Kaplan describes her inspiration for this work—a moment that appears in the text as well, in a scene in which Little Feather’s tapping at a window comforts a grieving woman. This book’s gentle story, accompanied by the author’s own watercolor illustrations, tells of the fears and exhilarations of growing up, and it may be used to introduce young children to the concepts of self-reliance, responsibility, and the importance of friends and family. Some advice that Little Feather receives is fairly vague, and Kaplan’s poetic structure is a bit unusual, with rhymes appearing and disappearing without apparent regularity. Overall, though, this is an effectively sweet tale.
A charmingly illustrated, touching story of growth and maturity that’s appropriate for young children, although its allegories may also provide inspiration to adult readers.