Feathers and Fools

Book review by
Mary LeCompte, Common Sense Media
Feathers and Fools Book Poster Image
Literary-quality fable is engaging, effective.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

Peacocks and swans sharpen their feathers to be used as weapons of war. Violent imagery in text.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this literary-quality story is an engaging, effective fable. The acrylic artwork is bright and dreamlike. Heavy on life lessons, it may be more appealing to parents and teachers than to kids.

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What's the story?

At first there is harmony, but when the peacocks and swans begin to fear one another because of their differences, their peaceful pond turns into a battlefield--with tragic results. When all seems lost, hope arises, in this profound, well-crafted, and stunningly illustrated modern-day fable worthy of comparison to Aesop's tales.


Is it any good?

This is a timely, powerful fable, but parents should choose their audience wisely; even though most kids will recognize the story's merit, the subject matter may sadden or disturb some. Author Mem Fox makes a point to name the most aggressive peacock "the first-and-most-foolish" and demonstrates in elegant prose how the follies of human nature -- such as prejudice, gossip, and aggression -- can lead to the despair of having to live in fear and, ultimately, face the ravages of war.

The right-hand pages are richly detailed acrylic illustrations with primitive borders, which stand out against a black background. The left-hand text pages are simply illustrated but complement the images on the right.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the moral of this story. What lessons does it try to teach? What could the birds have done differently?

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