Fantail’s Quilt


Gay Hay (text) and Margaret Tolland (illustration), Fantail’s Quilt, Starfish Bay Children’s Books, August 2019, 36 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk),  ISBN 9781760360719 

All Mother Fantail wants is to find a warm, cosy place to protect her nest of eggs, but that can be hard to do with Rat on the prowl. Tirelessly, Mother Fantail builds nest after nest until she is certain her chicks are safe from the hungry and crafty Rat, determined to find his next meal.  

Will Mother Fantail find the perfect home for her chicks?  

Fantail’s Quilt delicately teaches about the survival of the native Fantail bird species against wildlife predators.  

Margaret Tolland’s almost life-like illustrations elevate Gay Hay’s beautifully simple text, creating a rare, visual experience on every page. Fantails are usually small in real life but here they are larger than life when set against a mainly black and green backdrop, enhancing their diminutive beauty and features. The subdued tones and limited colour palette allow readers to fully engage in the plight of Mother Fantail as Rat tries to satisfy his hunger.  

Gay Hay and Margaret Tolland continue to effortlessly combine their talents to share stories about the importance of ecology and the animals that inhabit the New Zealand environment.  

Teachers and librarians alike will love the inclusion of ‘look and find’ activities to provide a wonderful learning experience to broaden primary school students’ knowledge of plants and animals native to New Zealand. 

An inspiring story about perseverance and a mother’s fierce love to protect her family. 

Reviewed by Shelley Stephens 

1 Comment

  1. Visual experiences in picture books are essential for children. What a smart text with beautiful illustrations that tempt children and families to learn more about New Zealand plants and animals. Where I live on the Blackall Ranges in Mapleton there are many gorgeous birds that sing daily. Thanks Gay and Margaret for a winning combination.

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