Friday, September 14, 2012

Feathers and Fools

Fox, Mem.2000. Feathers and Fools. Orlando, FL: Harcourt. Ill. by Nicholas Wilton. ISBN 0-15-202365-8
Set in a beautiful garden and on a clear blue lake, Feathers and Fools is the story of an ostentation of peacocks and a flock of swans who develop a fear of each other due to their differences.  The fear grows to a panic which eventually causes the birds to destroy one another. 

Written by Australian author Mem Fox and illustrated by6 Nicholas Wilton, Feathers and Fools is an allegory about the foolishness of prejudice and war.   The symbolism presented through the use of two beautiful species of birds who have more in common than in their differences presents a poignant picture of how fear of the unknown can lead to disaster and destruction.  With each species creating a hoard of ever growing weapons the fear and distrust grows until war is inevitable.  Fox shows that peace can prevail with the birth of two chicks who have not been taught to fear the other and choose instead a path of friendship and togetherness.

Intense acrylic illustrations lend to the beauty of both sets of birds while bringing forth a feeling of growing fear with strong brushstrokes and sharpening angles. 

Due to the violent nature of the book, I would not recommend this book for very small children.  The material is better suited for older children in spite of the picture book format.

"Turns Fox into a contemporary Aesop."—Kirkus Reviews
"Powerful...The text's pointed poetry will sink directly into children's hearts."—Publishers Weekly
"This allegory is alive with symbolic references and ideas....Vivid."—School Library Journal


Look for these other books by Mem Fox:
The Little Dragon April 2011                                                    Let’s Count Goats! October 2010
A Giraffe in the Bath  April 2010                                              Hello Baby! 2009
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes 2008                             Where The Giant Sleeps 2007
A Particular Cow 2006                                                              Hunwick’s Egg 2005
Where Is The Green Sheep? 2004                                            The Magic Hat 2002
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! 2000                                         Sleepy Bears 1999
Whoever You Are 1998                                                             Boo to a Goose 1996
Wombat Divine 1995                                                                Tough Boris 1994
Sophie 1989                                                                              Shoes from Grandpa 1989
Feathers and Fools 1989                                                          Night Noises 1989
With Love, at Christmas 1988                                                  Koala Lou 1988
Guess What? 1988                                                                   Goodnight Sleep Tight 1988
A Bedtime Story 1987                                                               The Straight Line Wonder 1987
Sail Away: The Ballad of Skip and Nell 1986                            Just Like That 1986
Hattie and the Fox 1986                                                           Zoo-Looking 1986
Arabella: The Smallest Girl in the World 1986                         Possum Magic 1983
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge 1984
Check out the authors website:
Civics connection:  Students can be introduced to the concept of war.  Have students list ways in which the birds were similar and different.  Compare and contrast the lists.  Are the differences more important than the similarities?  Are any of the perceived differences harmful or threatening to the other group?
Have children read other fables. 
Discuss the use of color throughout Feathers and Fools.  Do the colors change to reflect the thoughts and feelings of the birds?

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