Ahmed and the Feather Girl by Jane Ray

Ahmed and the Feather Girl

Written by Jane Ray
Illustrated by Jane Ray

5+ readers   7+ readers   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

In beautiful pictures matched by a richly-told story award-winning Jane Ray brings to life the story of a little boy and the magic that enables him to escape from his hard life. Ahmed is badly treated as a servant to the cruel owner of a travelling circus. When he finds a golden egg in the forest he is sure it will lead to better things. But his mistress puts the egg into a cage and, when the most beautiful little girl in the world hatches out of it, she charges people loads of money to come and see her. When the beautiful girl pines for freedom Ahmed steals the key and sets her free. Can the two ever be reunited? A feathery-light tale that inspires belief.

If you are a fan of Jane's work you might also like Zeraffa Giraffa, intricately and sensitively drawn, there are full page colour illustrations that simply spring into life.


Ahmed and the Feather Girl by Jane Ray

Ahmed is a poor orphan boy who lives with a travelling circus, working for cruel Madame Saleem, the circus-owner. But his life is changed when he finds a beautiful egg in the forest, and brings it back to the circus. From the egg hatches a child, a little girl called Aurelia, a child who, as she grows, sprouts soft feathers that turn into wings. But Madame Saleem keeps Aurelia in a cage, to be her top attraction at the circus, and never lets her out. Ahmed knows he must free Aurelia the Feather Girl from her cruel cage or she will die. One night he creeps into Madame Saleem's caravan, takes the key to Aurelia's cage and lets her fly free. Now Ahmed's life becomes even harder, as the circus-owner takes revenge for losing her star attraction. But one night Aurelia comes to him in a dream and brings him a feather...and Ahmed begins to hope again.

Dreams and memories are the key in this beautiful and fantastic tale of magic, enchantment and freedom from a master storyteller and illustrator of children's books.


Must be one of the most beautiful picture books of the year. Its story of how orpham Ahmed discovers a golden egg which hatches into a little girl deserves to become a classic. Independent

The colourful dramatic pictures will appeal to children of 5-7. Spectator

Jane Ray's magical Ahmmed and the Feather Girl is gloriously illustrated with birds, stars, bunting and acrobats in sumptuous colour. It is about Ahmed, an orphan boy who is cruelly treated in a travelling circus, and his friendship with a winged girl hatched from a golden egg. An ambiguous ending, in the tradition of Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, describes how Ahmed finds freedom. Sunday Times

Told in captivating language, this modern fairy tale has all the elements of a classic. Illustrated in watercolor and collage, the folk-art paintings beautifully convey Ahmed's servitude, Aurelia's magic, and the bond of their friendship. School Library Journal

Enriched by exquisite illustrations in a patchwork of sumptuous colours: a portable art gallery indeed. Ham & High 4 Stars

Sometimes the best person to write a story is the illustrator and this is a case in point, for Jane Ray has allowed herself free rein to decorate and embellish magical pictures in her own whimsical way. Each complete in itself, the images tell the story in a gentle unfolding fashion. There's a haunting pathos in the pictures and the words, a sadness which is steeped in the folk tale tradition, and the story touches us on a deeply emotional level. Like many folk tales there's cruelty, imprisonment and a yearning for love. But there's also hope, dreams and the splendour of flying to freedom. Books for Keeps

The images are beautiful: there are vivid depictions of day and night, and autumn and winter, and readers will be drawn to the rich, bold colours and expressive characters. It is the combination of words and pictures that will draw children into the magical setting and the mysterious events that take place. Ibby Link a wonderful fairy tale like story ...a lovely book for the school library and for a child to own School Librarian

Jane Ray has created a wonderful fairy tale-like story and her remarkabke trademark jewel-like illustrations only add to the magic of the story... A book to be shared with children from Foundations stage and one which will be enjoyed by those older children who want to read the story for themselves. A lovely book for the school library and for a child to own. School Librarian

About the Author

Jane Ray

As a child

Jane Ray grew up in Muswell Hill, London, in a house full of books and music (her father is a pianist). She always loved to paint and draw and first started making books at the age of five. She never much enjoyed going to school as it was an interruption to what she really wanted to do and she still can’t believe that she is actually able to earn a living, staying at home and painting and drawing.

As an adult

Jane trained at art school in 3-dimensional design (ceramics, glass-blowing, furniture and jewellery design) but came back to illustration which is what she always wanted to do when she graduated. She has worked, among other things, as a life model, a special needs teacher, a telephone cleaner and a mural artist. She has three children and works from a very nice shed at the bottom of the garden.

As an artist

Jane started out, after leaving art school, by designing greetings cards, wrapping paper, book jackets and posters, and selling her paintings. However, the making of picture books has become the most important aspect of her work and she has recently begun to write as well as illustrate. She finds the picture book to be the most satisfying of art forms. She often goes into schools to talk about her books and to work with children and finds this a stimulating alternative to the blank sheet of paper.

Things you didn't know about Jane Ray:

1. Favourite food – Sunday roast with all the trimmings and all the family.
2. She has two cats.
3. She used to play the cello.
4. She doesn’t like grapefruit.
5. She wishes she could play the piano.
6. She likes to sing in the bath.
7. She doesn’t drink tea.
8. She’d be a teacher if she wasn’t an illustrator, or she’d have a flower stall.
9. She likes English weather!
10. She loves her garden studio and works there every day, after a two-mile walk each morning.

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Book Info


32 pages
Interest Age: From 5


Jane Ray
More books by Jane Ray

Author's Website



Frances Lincoln Childrens Books an imprint of Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd

Publication date

6th March 2014




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