CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 31. . . April 21, 2017
Fabulous Feathers in Her Hair, written by Laura Langston and illustrated by Sonia Nadeau, is a tender story about a child losing her best friend. A young girl and her friend Elly do everything together. They go to school, play, and dream about their futures. When Elly dies, her friend waits for her to return, and when Elly doesn’t come back, her friend no longer feels like playing or dreaming. But when she’s given a keepsake of Elly’s and a feather falls from between its pages, the girl knows it’s her friend’s way of saying she is not gone, but instead still exists through the dreams and memories the girls made together.
Fabulous Feathers in Her Hair begins with an unnamed young girl talking about the things she and her best friend Elly do together and then moves into the girl trying to cope without her best friend around after Elly dies. Langston does an excellent job of highlighting how confusing the concept of death can be. Elly’s friend believes “Elly is too real to die”, and she doesn’t understand how someone can simply disappear. She waits for Elly to come back, and she has trouble comprehending her mother’s explanation that Elly will remain young forever. These emotions, although highly complex, are presented in a simple and straightforward way, and the young girl’s feelings will be relatable to anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one.
It’s difficult for the girl to cope without her friend, but ultimately she finds comfort in the belief that a part of Elly exists everywhere. This belief is one the girl develops herself–it is not something her parents or any other adults tell her–which makes her acceptance of what has happened feel more authentic. Despite the serious subject matter of this story, the friend’s discovery of the feather and subsequent belief in Elly’s continued existence gives Fabulous Feathers in Her Hair an uplifting resolution.
The illustrations by Sonia Nadeau help to set the tone for each part of this tale. As the girls play and dream, the illustrations are full of colour and movement. These images show the girls smiling and talking, their arms mid-wave or their hair flying as they perform in their fantasy band. After Elly’s death, however, the images highlight the emptiness her friend feels without Elly nearby. These images have dreary backgrounds, and there is very little movement shown. Only when Elly’s keepsake is found at the end of the story do the colours and movements return. The images reflect the main character’s joy and grief, successfully matching the flow of the text and adding to the cohesiveness of the story as a whole.
Fabulous Feathers in Her Hair gently leads readers through one girl’s disbelief and sadness as she tries to understand what it means to have her best friend die. This is a touching tale of friendship, grief, and acceptance, and it is a strong addition to the collection of titles focussing on children’s perspectives of death and bereavement.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.