cover image Blanca's Feather

Blanca's Feather

Antonio Madrigal, Luna Rising. Rising Moon Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87358-743-3

Madrigal (Erandi's Braids) sets his predictable tale in a rural Mexican valley on the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, when residents bring pets and farm animals to church to be blessed. Young Rosal a looks forward to having the priest bless her beloved hen, Blanca, and thereby protect her from ""the spirits of disease"" and from coyotes and wolves. But when it's time to go to church, all Rosal a can find is one of Blanca's feathers. The kind priest blesses the feather and instructs Rosal a to rub it on the hen's head when she reappears. The child complies when Blanca finally emerges from her hiding spot, surrounded by a newly hatched ""string of fluffy chicks."" Although it spotlights a ceremony that should intrigue animal lovers, Madrigal's narrative is wordy and lacks tension. More distinctive are Suz n's (Butterfly Boy) earthy, effectively grainy paintings, which feature a luminous palette of predominately warm colors and evoke the story's setting with folkish flair. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)