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Summer 2009 - BOOK REVIEW by Paul Lagasse
"Flightless Goose"
A children's picture book by Eric D. Goodman
Illustrations by Natalya A. Goodman
The Writers Lair Books, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0975440254
48 pages, $15.95 hardcover

Inspired by the travails of a real goose, Eric D. and Natalya A. Goodmanís childrenís picture book Flightless Goose is a charming modern retelling of a timeless tale. Gilbert is a typical happy young goose -- he frolics with his friends by the lake in the spring and flies with them to Florida for the winter. But when an accident deprives Gilbert of his ability to fly, his friends soon trade their empathy for taunts and tricks. Despite assurances from his human friend Johnny -- himself confined to a wheelchair -- Gilbert is ostracized and ultimately left behind as winter draws near and the flock flies south.

Lonely and cold, Gilbert spends the winter becoming a strong swimmer and an even stronger runner. When the flock returns in the spring, Gilbertís new abilities help him not only to escape a nefarious plot by two criminals, but to summon help from the humans who live around the pond to save his friends. And so it comes to pass that Gilbert the flightless goose becomes a hero because of something he could do better than the other geese.

Natalya's watercolors of the lightly anthropomorphized geese (they play ball, skip rope, and wear clothes and shoes) are vibrant and detailed, and her style evokes the illustrations from the classic editions of fairy tales and nursery rhymes ...

The story line of Flightless Goose is appropriately simple without being simplistic, and its lessons -- that challenges can be overcome, that being different doesnít mean being less of a person, and that everyone has something they are good at -- are important ones for the intended audience of children 4 to 8 years old. The story is told in a way that is likely to be appealing and exciting to younger children without being condescending to older ones. Whether having it read to them or reading it themselves, kids will enjoy studying the richly detailed drawings and reading along with the bold and clear text.

Natalya's watercolors of the lightly anthropomorphized geese (they play ball, skip rope, and wear clothes and shoes) are vibrant and detailed, and her style evokes the illustrations from the classic editions of fairy tales and nursery rhymes that many parents will remember from when they were children. Ericís words are well-chosen and presented in a friendly font that frequently undulates and trickles in time with the ups and downs of the story. The word choice and presentation will encourage younger readers to expand their vocabularies without missing the key meanings, and will also satisfy older and more skilled readers.

The husband-and-wife team of Eric, professional writer and editor, and Natalya, a high-school math and science teacher, were inspired to create Flightless Goose by an event they had witnessed a decade earlier -- a goose hit by a car struggling to survive a harsh winter with the help of the people who lived nearby. Their personal connection to the story-behind-the-story infuses the book with a feeling of earnestness.

Flightless Goose is available in full-color hardcover through the publisherís website, www.WritersLairBooks.com, on Amazon, and through local booksellers. Autographed copies can be ordered at a 10% discount from the authors at www.RunGoose.com, which also features the latest news on readings and press coverage of the book.

   


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