Cover image for Feathers and fools
Feathers and fools
Fox, Mem, 1946-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, [1996]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 23 x 29 cm
A modern fable about some peacocks and swans who allow the fear of their differences to become so great that they end up destroying each other.
Reading Level:
960 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.1 0.5 14410.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.3 1 Quiz: 25115 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.2.F65 FE 1996 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Long ago and far away, in a rambling garden beside a clear blue lake, two flocks of birds began to fear each other for their differences. Their 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. This haunting modern fable reminds readers that with each generation there is renewed hope for understanding and lasting peace. "Beautifully illustrated, the message is appropriate and necessary for children of all ages."-- Children's Book Review Service

Author Notes

Mem Fox was born on March 5, 1946 in Melbourne, Australia. She attended a drama school in London. She returned to Australia where she was a college professor.

She writes children's books including Possum Magic, Night Noises, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Time for Bed, Koala Lou, Wombat Divine, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Hello Baby!, A Giraffe in the Bath (co-written with Olivia Rawson), Count Goats!, and The Little Dragon. She has also written several books for adults.

She has received numerous awards including the 1990 Dromkeen Medal for distinguished services to children's literature, a 1991 Advance Australia Award for her outstanding contribution to Australian literature, and a medal in the 1993 Australia Day Honours awards for services to the cultural life of Australia.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4‘An 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 arms‘only 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.