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About the book
  • Published: 4 June 2008
  • ISBN: 9780143503156
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

Fifty-five Feathers


Formats & editions


Who of the birds will donate their feathers for a cloak to keep Gecko warm in winter?

Pukeko is worried about her friend Gecko who seems to be suffering in the cold of winter, so she asks Wise Old Tree for some advice. 'Make him a cloak of fifty-five feathers,' she is told, and so Pukeko sets out to help her friend.

A beautiful story of friendship and giving, shortlisted for the Russell Clark Award for Illustration.

  • Pub date: 4 June 2008
  • ISBN: 9780143503156
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Authors

Ben Brown

Ben Brown, author of the evocative memoir A Fish in the Swim of the World, also writes children’s books, non-fiction, and short stories for children and adults, many of which have strong New Zealand nature themes. Many of his children’s books are illustrated by his wife, Helen Taylor. He was born in Motueka, New Zealand, in 1962, and lives in Lyttleton, New Zealand. Their Te Reo edition of Fifty-Five FeathersNga Raukura Rima Tekau Ma Rima — was shortlisted for the 2005 LIANZA 2005 Book Awards; the English-language edition was shortlisted for the 2005 Russell Clark Award. Booming in the Night won Best Picture Book at the 2006 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards and was a 2006 Storylines Notable Picture Book. Brown was awarded the 2011 Maori Writers’ Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre. Since 1992 he has been a writer and publisher, previously working as a tobacco farm labourer, market gardener and tractor driver.

The New Zealand Post judges report described A Booming in the Night as ‘a captivating, polished and deceptively simple package — a pictorially stunning book with an educational message that also manages to capture the cheeky personality of one of our endangered bird species’. The book also made the 2006 Storylines Notable Picture Book list.

Denis Welch, reviewing the autobiographical A Fish in the Swim of the World in The New Zealand Listener, found it ‘a cut above most autobiographies, giving us a vivid picture of hard-working rural life and a wonderful portrait gallery of farm people and family characters'. The book has been recorded by, and aired on, Radio NZ National.

Brown has said of his memoir: ‘A Fish in the Swim of the World operates on the premise that ordinary people have worthwhile and interesting stories to tell. Characters and events that shape them seem somehow within reach. We can empathise with them. We can engage. There is the notion that a life lived in a certain way has meaning, has significance, though it may not change the world, nor even ripple its waters. And there is a desire to explore a uniquely New Zealand experience within these ideas.’

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor is an award-winning children's book illustrator and an exhibiting artist with works in private collections around New Zealand and overseas.

She has been illustrating books since 1992 and has been twice shortlisted for the LIANZA Children's Book Awards. In 2006, Helen won Best Picture Book in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, with A Booming in the Night, a collaboration with writer Ben Brown. Helen has also written and illustrated a number of picture books and in 2015 her book Kakapo Dance won a Storylines Notable Picture Book Award.

Helen lives in an old yellow house on a red-boned hill in the portside town of Lyttelton.


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