Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

First published in The Saturday Evening Post magazine, The Snow Goose was awarded an O. Henry short story prize in 1941. I finally got around to reading it because I had heard of a new edition (well, relatively recent -- 2007) illustrated by Angela Barrett.
Joanna Carey wrote about Barrett’s work, “A lot of children’s illustrators today grab your attention with the speed and economy of their style, but Angela Barrett approaches things very differently. There is a stillness and a quiet atmospheric intensity to her illustrations which appeal across a wide range of understanding. She doesn't simplify things - on the contrary, she both assumes and respects the intelligence of her readers - and her richly allusive work, full of detail and symbolism, invites and rewards as much time and investigation as you care to give it."
The Snow Goose is a sentimental story about a hunchback who becomes friends with a girl when she brings an injured goose to him. The man is killed after rescuing many soldiers who had been stranded on the beach of Dunkirk.
The restrained style of the illustrations nicely balances the melodrama inherent in the tale. The story travels into sappy territory but not so far as to prevent my enjoyment of it. I appreciated the mood change in the section where the narration shifts from third person to bits of conversation between soldiers, telling of their experiences at Dunkirk and their sightings of a snow goose. There was one point (the mine in the water) where I felt my emotions manipulated and resisted the author, but other than that, I liked the story and loved the artwork.
This edition may draw new readers (like myself), but will also be enjoyed by people who already know and love the classic story. A picture book for all ages: Grade 4 to adult.

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