The Feather

This picturebook from Tamarind (publishers of the ‘Black Profile’ series which includes titles on Benjamin Zephania and Malorie Blackman amongst others) explores the concept of colour, and colour is its multicultural subtext. It is a book with a strong message, with plenty of additional content to catch the attention of primary-school children in the younger classes. Paula, herself dark-skinned, out walking near her home, finds a feather and asks first one then another bird whether it belongs to them. They each reply no, and each offers her one of their own, describing the various colours of their feathers in images that bring the reader around the world. These places are shown in window-like views on the page. Eventually Paula speaks to a seagull who brings the search to a close, saying that it is his and that his feathers are grey like the mist at the dawn of time. He encourages her to keep the feather to remind her of ‘that grey time, long, long ago’. Paula decides to keep all the feathers in her hat so that she will ‘see all the colours that brighten up our world’.

The illustrations are vivid and eye-catching in saturated watercolour. The birds are particularly lifelike and Paula has a presence that makes me hazard a guess that she is modelled on photographs of a real child.