Ben Kitchin (text), Owen Swan (illus). The Red Feather, New Frontier Publishing, 1 July 2015, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk) ISBN: 9879095988439.
Claude, Shelly, William and Maya go to the seaside, where Claude finds an amazing, beautiful, large red feather. Claude is reluctant to share his treasure, but when he eventually gets hungry, he trades it for a watermelon. Each child in turns plays with the feather in their own creative ways before trading it for something they need, until they realise that it is more fun to share it. While no parents are in evidence, the children are supplied with plentiful food and games to entertain themselves.
The unusually soft and pale illustrations have an “English” feel to them – the children go to the ‘seaside’, not the “beach”, and it clearly not a hot day. Each lovingly-detailed child is set within spacious white backgrounds, with only a distant yacht, a fisherman in his boat and a lone seagull evincing any other life nearby. Where the dog came from, and how the feather came to, and leaves, the beach is charmingly explained through careful attention to the illustrations. A gentle story for early childhood readers.
Reviewed by Chloe Mauger