Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ahmed and the feather girl by Jane Ray

Once each term I need to go right through all our picture books in the library.  We have more than 8000 of them.  I do this for several reasons.  I need to pull out books for classes to use next term - so this time I was looking for stories about food for Kindergarten, books about colour for Year One, the topic of Wet and Dry environments for Year Two and people and beliefs for Year Three.

As I do this process I put away all the books we have had on our various display stands and refresh them with books that need to be re-discovered.  I also find books that I want to share with classes and books to pop into the hands of teachers.

One book I 'discovered' today is Ahmed and the feather girl.  I adore the work of Jay Ray. We have a good collection of her illustrated fairy tales.

Ahmed and the Feather Girl is a simple story and perhaps it is predicable but it is also truly magical and it is adorned with exquisite illustrations. Ahmed is an orphan who is forced to work for a cruel old woman who owns a circus.  One day Ahmed fins a golden egg.  He makes it a nest and keeps it warm but Madame Saleem snatches it from him and places the egg in a cage.  Over time the egg hatches and a little girl appears.  They name her Aurelia.  This means golden.  Ahmed does his best to care for Aurelia even though she is kept in a cage and is now used a circus attraction.  "The little girl began to change and grow.  Tiny points appeared on her back and began to sprout fine silken feathers."  An adult reader will know Aurelia must one day fly away. Of course Ahmed will set her free.  Madame Saleem punishes Ahmed. "Now he had only crusts and scraps to eat and he slept huddled under a caravan.  He was cold and hungry and he missed Aurelia."  You may have guessed the ending but I am sure it will be a wonderful discovery for a young reader.  The final page sparkles.

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