Zia (Child of Spring
) dives right into this buoyant tale, which draws its energy from folktale-like storytelling and lots of chatter. Lali, an Indian girl with a long black braid, finds a feather and asks the neighborhood birds one by one if it’s theirs. They answer scornfully: “Na
, Lali, na
!” the rooster responds, “My feather is a big feather. It makes me a lordly bird.” All right, Lali thinks—if it doesn’t belong to any of the birds, she’ll play with it herself. The feather can write, she finds, and fan and sweep. “Oo ma
,” Duck cries, “I didn’t know pokey feather could do that!” Exclamations make the exchanges even funnier. “Wah!
It’s a clever feather!” the birds agree, showing a new appreciation for it. A third sequence begins when wind sweeps the feather away and the good-hearted birds offer Lali substitutes, then help her search. Stylized spreads by Coleman (the Who Made My Lunch? series) portray the birds and the mango and tamarind trees of Lali’s world energetically but without detracting from the story’s forward momentum. It’s all dialogue all the time—a prime candidate for reading aloud. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Unter, the Unter Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, the Bright Agency. (Apr.)