Feathers and Fools

Feathers and Fools

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by Mem Fox, Nicholas Wilton
     
 

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Long ago and far away, in a rambling garden beside a clear blue lake, two flocks of birds began to fear each other because of their differences. The fear grew, and soon the birds became enemies, hoarding great quantities of weapons to protect themselves—until panic struck and the chance for peace seemed lost forever.
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Overview

Long ago and far away, in a rambling garden beside a clear blue lake, two flocks of birds began to fear each other because of their differences. The fear grew, and soon the birds became enemies, hoarding great quantities of weapons to protect themselves—until panic struck and the chance for peace seemed lost forever.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW said of this allegorical tale of war between swans and peacocks, "The text's pointed poetry will sink directly into children's hearts, while the mysteries [depicted in] the sophisticated acrylics offer possibilities for contemplation and discovery." Ages 6-9. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4An antiwar allegory. A pride of peacocks notices that a flock of nearby swans can both swim and fly, feats they themselves cannot do. They wonder if the swans will use their strength aggressively. Soon they convince themselves that they are in danger, and begin stockpiling armsonly to be used defensively, of course. The swans then gather their own weapons. Fear and tension increase until the war both groups have been preparing for breaks out, triggered by a nervous mistake. "Soon cries filled the air and blood darkened the earth." Two eggs survive, two chicks hatch, a swan and a peacock. They recognize one another as fellow birds, more alike than different, and stumble away to share the world. This allegory is alive with symbolic references and ideas. The pictures, however, are what lift the story out of the ordinary. Wilton's full-page acrylic paintings on the right are framed with primitive borders laid against a second border of solid black. The left-hand page displays brief text set on a background of geometric and natural forms in symbolic shapes (roses and thorns, snakes and fish) in colors that are shaded with darkness but nonetheless vivid. This tale will be an easy step-off to discussion of the late arms-race, perhaps helping to clarify thoughts, even to changing opinions. Fox clearly implies that war is the result of stupidity and unreasonable fear.Ruth Semrau, formerly at Lovejoy School, Allen, TX
Kirkus Reviews
The battle of the birds makes clear that the origins of a conflict may be absurd compared to the ravages of war.

The peacocks and the swans share the same pond peacefully, until the differences between them create tension. When the peacocks note that swans can swim and fly, they irrationally fear that they might be forced to swim and fly, too, and prepare to defend themselves. The swans hear the peacocks' talk of fighting and become frightened enough to develop their own tools of war. When a swan flying overhead is mistaken for an aggressor, the war, once launched, lasts until every bird is dead. Fox (Sophie, 1994, etc.) offers an optimistic ending: The next generation of swan and peacock hatchlings note their similarities instead of differences. Wilton's first children's book shimmers with jewel tones, portraying both the elegant coloring of the peacocks and the misty, backlit shades of white in the swans' feathers. The obvious parallel to violence in the human world is fodder for classroom discussion, but the work is much more than its message. In its antique, folktale look, and in the descriptions of the birds' subtle shifts toward antagonism, the book turns Fox into a contemporary Aesop and aptly demonstrates that the roots of war can thrive in a pond of gossip.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152023652
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/28/2000
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
36
Sales rank:
552,666
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.20(d)
Lexile:
960L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

MEM FOX is the author of many acclaimed books, including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Possum Magic, Koala Lou, Time for Bed, and, for adults, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. She lives in Adelaide, Australia.

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