Shortlist year: 2018

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: Scholastic Australia

The story reveals the resilience of the human spirit and the universal importance of home and finding safe shelter. This story of compassion and connectivity is more important than ever, given the current global political climate. Themes: birds, migration, geography, refugees, natural disasters, hope, resilience, home, safety.

About the author


Phil Cummings

Award-winning author Phil Cummings was born in Port Broughton and grew up in the mid-north town of Peterborough in South Australia. The youngest of eight children, he has worked as an apprentice mechanic, a waiter and more recently a primary school teacher. He has published more than 60 books for young readers since his first picture book. Recently, Ride Ricardo, Ride was named an Honour Book by the CBCA, 2016.

About the author


Phil Lesnie

Phil Lesnie is a Sydney-based illustrator of children's books. He is also a children's bookseller. It's almost as if he likes books or something. He works primarily in watercolour because even mistakes look lovely in watercolour.

Judges’ comments

Feathers provides a literal bird's-eye view of world events as the reader follows the migratory journey of a sandpiper, from East Asia to Australia. Taking flight from its seaside location in the chill of autumn, the sandpiper journeys across many borders and over many lands, witnessing much hardship along the way—an earthquake ravished town, refugees fleeing from their homeland, a flooded village. The sandpiper drops a feather in each of these troubled places, and when it is plucked up, it provides a moment of wonder, joy and respite from the tragedy of the people's lives. Finally the sandpiper travels across a stormy sea and arrives 'near Mia's house', presumably in Australia, where it settles at the water's edge, 'safe and warm'. The bird's journey illuminates the plight of different peoples across the planet and, in doing so, highlights how relatively lucky Mia and her family are in Australia, but also works to explore human commonality and connection.

In this beautifully crafted book, text and illustration combine to create a thought-provoking and evocative tale that speaks to the world as we know it. The text is spare, elegant and dispassionate and the watercolour illustrations stunningly beautiful and intensely moving. The symbolism of the bird and the feather is subtle but effective and the reader is left with a broad view of humankind and an opportunity to reflect on wonder, hope and gratefulness.