Review policy

Due to time pressures, I am unable to commit to reviewing books at the moment. However, please feel free to recommend or discuss by tweeting @MsTick68 or commenting on here. Thank you!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Illustrated Year: Ahmed and the Feather Girl by Jane Ray

Most of my teaching career has been spent in diverse, inner city schools; latterly in London where it is common to find that over 30 languages are spoken (although of course English is the lingua franca. There is a great incentive to learn to speak English so that you can communicate with the rest of your class!) As Britain becomes more culturally diverse outside the cities as well as inside, there is a real imperative for teachers to find books that represent the children in their classes. As I said here , it's very important for making children want to read.


This beautiful book, from the wonderful Frances Lincoln Children's Books is the story of Ahmed, a circus boy. The circus is run by the cruel Madame Saleem. One winter's day, when Ahmed is gathering firewood, he finds a large golden egg in the forest. Madame Saleem locks it in a golden cage, and when spring comes a little girl hatches out. Madame Saleem puts the girl, names Aurelia, on display and charges a lot of money. Gradually Aurelia grows feathers, and Madame Saleem grows rich, but Aurelia stops singing and grows sad. Ahmed steals the key to the cage and rescues her.  Madame Saleem of course is very angry, and beats Ahmed, but in his dreams Aurelia visits him, and every time she leaves him some feathers. Eventually he has enough, so that he can fly away with her.

This is a wonderful fairy tale, one that I recommend to read to children of 6+. Look out for it, and if it's not in your local library, request it! There are still not enough picture books featuring Asian children as protagonists, apart from rather worthy books explaining religious celebrations. 


  1. This sounds like a useful title. As you say, there are too few titles featuring protagonists from ethnic groups. For this reason I am a fan of The Swirling Hijaab which is also a beautiful picture book suitable for younger children and available in dual languages

  2. Thank you for the recommendation, LQ! I'll check that one out. Thank goodness for Tamarind, Frances Lincoln and Barefoot Books (as well as Matra Lingua) who consistently produce such fantastic multicultural books.