Karin Littlewood’s Immi’s Gift and Farhana Zia’s Lali’s Feather are two Peachtree publications featuring creative characters who embrace nature imaginatively. Although published 10 years apart, both books celebrate cultural diversity, creativity, and strong girl protagonists!
In an author’s note, Littlewood explains that she had written Immi’s story and drawn her many times before giving her a name. Immi is an Inuit name short for Immiayuk, which means echo. Littlewood notes that the word “seems very fitting for this story.” Indeed, it does! Inuit communities live in Arctic areas of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland. Littlewood’s protagonist stays warm fishing for her dinner in a below the knee coat with a hood rimmed with fur. Immi fishes through a little hole in the ice, catching beautiful objects she adores. She attaches the first, a bird, to a necklace already decorated with a small white bear. The experience is echoed the next day when she fishes a red flower charm out of the lake. Beautiful objects from leaves to feathers follow. Immi decorates her igloo with the objects. Littlewood folds fantasy into her story as Arctic animals including polar bears visit the girl in her igloo and always stay for dinner. Immi leaves the area when the snow begins to melt, but before she goes she drops her necklace with the small white bear into the lake. The book ends with a radical shift in topography as the white snowy landscape is replaced with a lush tropical one with a child in nothing but red shorts finding the necklace. The subtle message of interconnectedness told through a visual metaphor of water gives readers much to reflect on in this sweet story.
Zia’s Lali’s Feather is warmly illustrated by Staphanie Fizer Coleman. The story takes place in an Indian village and the cheerful protagonist skips through many beautifully depicted landscapes with a long dark braid bouncing behind her. Like Littlewood’s book, this one pivots around found objects, in this case a feather. Lali finds a feather in a field dotted with flowers and works to help it find a home. Also, like Littlewood’s story, this one imaginatively depicts the protagonist in conversation with animal friends. Lali asks Rooster, Crow, Peacock, and many others if the feather belongs to them, but it doesn’t. Finally, Blue Hay teases her asking what a feather can do. But, undeterred, Lali shows Blue Jay exactly what feather can do. Feather can fan a fire, tickle toes, and cause sneezes. When Lali’s feather flies away her bird friends come to her aid. The story ends with the discovery of another found object, this time a blue button. Zia ends the book there, but it’s a great prompt to let your little reader decide what will happen next.
I received these books at the same time and read them with my little one the same evening. We really enjoyed the pairing. The similarities and differences were fun to identify and discuss. I recommend these charming picture books and think that whether read in a classroom or home they’re sure to spark fun discussions!