Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Feathers (Phil Cummings, illus by Phil Lesnie, Scholastic)

If we could all fly around the world like the sandpiper in Phil Cummings and Phil Lesnie’s latest picture book, we would see how many people are experiencing extreme hardships that force them to flee their homes. The sandpiper flies vast distances as it migrates to safety, dropping the occasional feather to children far below. It is airborne throughout the entire book, emphasising the extent of its journey and the variety of the terrain. Its fallen feathers land in the hands of children who delight in their finds. This simple and poignant story conveys the despair of displaced people and the cruel effects of natural and man-made disasters. The artwork follows the sandpiper’s journey over watery landscapes, ruined houses and war-ravaged townships. The sandpiper finally reaches safety, and the final feather is found by a young girl and her father, who reflect on how lucky they are to live in such a safe place. It is something that will resonate with many Australian readers. Feathers is a beautiful book that is highly recommended for readers eight and up, but can also be shared with younger readers. It should provoke lively classroom discussions.

Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She is now proprietor of Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath, NSW


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