FEATHERS AND FOOLS by Mem Fox
Kirkus Star

FEATHERS AND FOOLS

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The battle of the birds makes clear that the origins of a conflict may be absurd compared to the ravages of war. The peacocks and the swans share the same pond peacefully, until the differences between them create tension. When the peacocks note that swans can swim and fly, they irrationally fear that they might be forced to swim and fly, too, and prepare to defend themselves. The swans hear the peacocks' talk of fighting and become frightened enough to develop their own tools of war. When a swan flying overhead is mistaken for an aggressor, the war, once launched, lasts until every bird is dead. Fox (Sophie, 1994, etc.) offers an optimistic ending: The next generation of swan and peacock hatchlings note their similarities instead of differences. Wilton's first children's book shimmers with jewel tones, portraying both the elegant coloring of the peacocks and the misty, backlit shades of white in the swans' feathers. The obvious parallel to violence in the human world is fodder for classroom discussion, but the work is much more than its message. In its antique, folktale look, and in the descriptions of the birds' subtle shifts toward antagonism, the book turns Fox into a contemporary Aesop and aptly demonstrates that the roots of war can thrive in a pond of gossip. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-15-200473-4
Page count: 36pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996




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