cover image Lotus and Feather

Lotus and Feather

Ji-li Jiang, illus. by Julie Downing. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4231-2754-3

Lotus lives in the rural marshlands with her grandfather. An illness has taken her voice, and her friends have drifted away. A magnificent crane is shot by a hunter, and, as Grandpa tends to it, Lotus and the crane she calls Feather grow to love each other: “When she whistled with her reed, Feather rubbed her cheek with his head.” Not long after, the crane foretells the danger of a flood, and Grandpa and Lotus alert the villagers; suddenly, they’re celebrities. And though Lotus must at last let Feather go, there’s a surprise in store for her the following spring. Jiang’s (Red Kite, Blue Kite) story is strengthened by its classic animal tale scaffolding—the lonely child discovering an ally in the wounded creature, the moment the animal must be returned to the wild. Downing’s (Don’t Turn the Page!) elegant spreads give the bird the grace of a dancer, and an environmental drama about the loss and recovery of wetlands underlies the story of Lotus’s struggle with loneliness. Readers will revel in the story’s double triumph. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary. (Dec.)