Published: Coming April 4, 2017


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By Cao Wenxuan
Illustrated by Roger Mello
Translated from the Chinese by Chloe Garcia Roberts

Cao Wenxuan’s Feather tells the story of a single feather who is swept away on a journey of discovery and belonging. Encountering a variety of birds, from a kingfisher to a magpie, Feather is hopeful of meeting the bird she belongs to. Again and again, she is dismissed or ignored. Only when she sees that there is also beauty in being close to the earth does fate offer a reunion… Feather is sure to charm young children with a plot at once compelling, meditative, and quietly moving. Roger Mello’s stunningly beautiful, dynamic illustrations will delight readers of all ages.

Published: October 18, 2017
$18 hardcover – ISBN: 978-0-914671-85-5
$15 ebook – eISBN: 978-0-914671-86-2

— Praise for Feather

“I believe a good picture book comes close to philosophy,” the great Chinese children’s author Cao writes in the introduction to this lovely and, yes, profound tale of a feather searching for the bird it belongs to. As Feather is rebuffed by a heron, a peacock, a wild goose and more, we glimpse each bird’s personality and sense of purpose, and we feel Feather’s longing for self-knowledge and a home. Mello’s striking art makes each page a bright color, each avian portrait an evocative surprise. The book’s boxlike design looks special, too.

Maria Russo, The New York Times Book Review

A single feather, blown about by the wind, asks one bird after another “Am I yours?” in this lovely picture book by beloved Chinese children’s author Cao Wenxuan, a professor of literature at Peking University, who writes in the introduction “I believe a good picture book comes very close to philosophy.” Feather is in search of answers to the big questions: “Where do I come from? Who do I belong to?” This quest takes feather to a kingfisher, a cuckoo, a heron, a goose, a magpie, a skylark, a hawk, a hen. The stunning illustrations are by acclaimed artist Roger Mello.

Jean Westmoore, The Buffalo News

Mello’s artwork offers countless delights: the plumage of the birds, contrasting backdrops that make the colors blaze, and liberal use of empty space. Cao’s story has the timeless quality of a traditional folk tale (and the brutality of one, with its offstage murder), and it speaks to the way that desires have consequences that can’t be calculated. It’s not comfort Feather’s search offers, but truth and beauty.

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Feather is a unique, beautiful take on the "Are You My Mother" story structure as a lost feather floats along, trying to find the bird it belongs to. Paired with Mello's spare yet rich and dynamic illustrations, this hopeful story of searching for belonging soars above the rest.

Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop

Each bird takes center stage on the double-page spreads, a marvel of extravagant pattern against solid, vibrant backgrounds ... [A] Zen exploration of belonging and groundedness ... further enhanced by a sensitive translation and pithy, philosophical introductions by both creators—masterful storytelling.

Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Feather is unlike any other picture book I’ve seen...nuanced and timeless.

Cracking the Cover

The illustrations are beautiful and striking in their simplicity... A sweet story, reading like a folk tale, a story of finding where you belong and not giving up until you do.

Katrina Yurenka, Youth Services Book Review, Starred Review

This beautiful and moving story proves that picture books are for everyone, regardless of age... Along the way, the story subtly raises themes of belonging, friendship, and grief, ending on a bittersweet note. Striking illustrations give each bird not just beauty, but personality. Readers will likely close the cover with a lump in their throats.
Alexandra Duncan, Author of Salvage and Sound, Librarian

Award-winning Chinese author Cao Wenxuan, (author of Bronze and Sunflower), has written a moving, timeless story, with a sensitive translation by Chloe Garcia Roberts. Wenxuan is a natural storyteller and the meditative and sagacious tale meanders gently along combining with an essence of Zen philosophy – an understanding of the meaning of life... Brazilian artist Roger Mello’s illustrations are striking... a bewitching book for all ages

Outside in World

[A] picture book with a very thoughtful, philosophical bent... strikingly gorgeous illustrations perfectly capture the variety of birds in the world including kingfisher, cuckoo, heron, wild geese, peacock, skylark and hawk... This is a book to hand to thoughtful readers.

Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library (Mansfield, MA)

— Praise for Cao Wenxuan —

Cao writes beautifully about the complex lives of children facing great challenges. He is a deeply committed writer, whose own difficult childhood has been deeply influential on his writing in which there are no easy answers.... Cao Wenxuan’s books don’t lie about the human condition; they acknowledge that life can often be tragic and that children can suffer. At the same time, they can love and be redeemed by their human qualities and the kindness they sometimes find when they are most in need.


— Praise for Cao Wenxuan's Bronze and Sunflower

In Wang’s translation of his leisurely, languid prose, Hans Christian Andersen winner Cao captures both the infinite joys and harsh realities of rural farming life…While seemingly idealized, the story and its protagonists reflect the Confucian values of filial piety and society above self—the very foundation of Chinese culture. Readers of all ages should be prepared to laugh, cry, and sigh with satisfaction.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Hans Christian Andersen Award–winner Wenxuan’s moving story of a friendship between two lonely Chinese children, orphaned Sunflower and mute Bronze, bears all the elements of a classic: an inviting and solidly constructed setting, a close-knit family, and a kindhearted community (there’s even a pet buffalo).

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Virtuous and kind, Bronze and Sunflower’s family reflects important cultural values including filial piety, respect for elders, the value of hard work and education, and the importance of saving face. This not-to-be-missed story reminds us to be thankful for family and love, no matter our station in life. Helpful back matter provides additional insight into this specific time in China’s history.

Booklist (starred review)

Capturing a distinct time and place as well as moments of bittersweet universality, this vivid and accessible novel for 9- to 12-year-olds would make for a superb family read-aloud.

The Wall Street Journal

The landscape, captured in lyrical, evocative prose, takes the leading role in this episodic novel set during China’s Cultural Revolution…This beautifully written depiction of a time and place not often seen in children’s literature makes for a strong purchase.

School Library Journal

— Praise for Roger Mello —

Mello's striking use of color and intricate design captivates his viewers and leaves them thinking about his images long after viewing them. It is impossible to glance briefly at Mello's art; each viewing of his intricate and colorful works brings to the surface different viewing experiences, and he has a knack for drawing his readers/viewers into his images.

Samantha Christensen, Blackbird

For the past 20 years, Mello has colored his way into the imaginations of children across this outsize country, turning tropical plants and beasts into mythical idylls, while reviving forgotten folklore.


Roger Mello’s illustrations allow the child to be guided through stories by their imaginations.... The illustrations are both innovative and inclusive, and incorporate images that promote tolerance and respect between individuals from different cultures and traditions.


Peruse a short blog post featuring Cao Wenxuan and Roger Mello, from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.