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Reviewed by Allison Marks for Readers' Favorite
The Legend of the White Peacock by Kristen Iten is about a young girl in a rural village who loves to listen to stories. Her favorite is about the rare and magical white peacock. If a person is able to steal a single plume from its tail in the light of a silver moon, their wish will be granted. One night during a full moon, the peacock’s call lures the girl into the wilds of the jungle. Following the echoing sound, she finally finds the bird. Knowing instinctively she seeks one of its plumes, the peacock initially accuses her of using the pilfered feather to fulfill selfish desires: to become fabulously wealthy, to seek fame, or to perhaps destroy her enemies. However, the bird soon realizes none of these accusations is valid. He judges her to have a true and pure soul after learning her simple wish is to be able to read. In fact, she wishes all the girls in her village could read. The peacock willingly gives her not only one plume, but allows her to pluck every feather from his magnificent tail to share with others.
The young reader will love David Overholt’s beautifully rendered full-page illustrations. Each one breathes life and movement into this well-told tale. His intricate borders which encompass the text feature elegant elephant profiles, lush exotic flowers, and fantastic geometric patterns. In mythology, the white peacock symbolizes the reaching for and embracing of your true self. This is precisely what happens in Iten’s book when the white peacock’s generosity and sacrifice enable every young girl in the village the opportunity to learn to read and obtain an education.