A curious story involving not only the Snow Goose, the Canada-bred wanderer of the airways, but also a couple and their travels. In print in this small hardcover gift format since 1941.
Gr 5 Up
Gallico's classic story of the selflessness of a goodhearted recluse speaks volumes to readers accustomed to a world plagued by self-gratification. Philip Rhayader, a deformed misfit, inhabits an abandoned lighthouse near the English Channel, where he pours out his feelings in his paintings of wildlife and in his care for the birds to which he gives sanctuary. When 12-year-old Frith takes Philip a wounded snow goose, the two form a bond. The goose returns annually, and Philip and Frith grow in their fondness for each other. During World War II, when hundreds are stranded at Dunkirk, Philip, with only the goose as a companion and under heavy enemy fire, tirelessly sails soldiers to safety. Later, when the bird returns alone to the lighthouse, Frith's worst fears are confirmed, and she is left with nothing but Philip's paintings and her memories of a love she never expressed. The beautifully written but somewhat complex text uses unfamiliar vocabulary, and the occasional dialogue is rendered in a strong Essex dialect. However, the overall story is clear, poignant, and still relevant years after its original publication (1940). Barrett's inset and full-page pencil drawings, done in soft pastel tones, perfectly complement the tale's serious nature, capturing the spareness of the landscape and the intensity of the characters' feelings. Sure to provoke thoughtful discussions, this book is an excellent way to introduce a new generation to Gallico's timeless tale.
Nancy Menaldi-ScanlanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"A tale of exquisite sentimentality and storytelling gains new appeal in Barrett's magical hands . . . a lovely reworking for a whole new audience."
From the Hardcover edition.
Read an Excerpt
One November afternoon, three years after Rhayander had come to the Great Marsh, a child approached the lighthouse studio by means of the sea wall. In her arms she carried a burden.
She was no more than twelve, slender, dirty, nervous and timid as a bird, but beneath the grime as eerily beautiful as a marsh faery. She was pure Saxon, large-boned, fair, with a head to which her body was yet to grow, and deep-set, violet-coloured eyes.
She was desperately frightened of the ugly man she had come to see, for legend had already begun to gather about Rhayader, and the native wild-fowlers hated him for interfering with their sport.
But greater than her fear was the need of that which she bore. For locked in her child’s heart was the knowledge, picked up somewhere in the swampland, that this ogre who lived in the lighthouse had magic that could heal injured things.
She had never seen Rhayader before and was close to fleeing in panic at the dark apparition that appeared at the studio door, drawn by her footsteps — the black head and beard, the sinister hump, and the crooked claw. She stood there staring, poised like a disturbed marsh bird for instant flight.
But his voice was deep and kind when he spoke to her.
‘What is it child?’
She stood her ground, and then edged timidly forward. The thing she carried in her arms was a large white bird, and it was quite still. There were stains of blood on its whiteness and on her kirtle where she had held it to her.
The girl placed it in his arms. ‘I found it, sir. It’s hurted. Is it still alive?’
‘Yes. Yes, I think so. Come in, child, come in.’
Rhyander went inside, bearing the bird, which he placed upon a table, where it moved feebly. Curiosity overcame fear. The girl followed and found herself in a room warmed by a coal fire, shining with many coloured pictures that covered the walls, and full of a strange but pleasant smell.
The bird fluttered. With his good hand Rhayader spread on of its immense white pinions. The end was beautifully tipped with black.
Rhayader looked and marvelled, and said: ‘Child: where did you find it?’
‘In t’ marsh, sir, where fowlers had been. What — what is it, sir?’
‘It’s a snow goose from Canada. But how in all heaven came it here?’
The name seemed to mean nothing to the little girl. Her deep violet eyes, shining out of the dirt on her thin face, were fixed with concern on the injured bird.
She said: ‘Can ‘ee heal it, sir?’
‘Yes, yes,’ said Rhayader. ‘We will try. Come, you shall help me.’
There were scissors and bandages and splints on a shelf, and he was marvelously deft, even with the rooked claw that managed to hold things.
He said: ‘Ah, she has been shot, poor thing. Her leg is broken, and the wing tip! but not badly. See, we will clip her primaries, so that we can bandage it, but in the spring the feathers will grow and she will be able to fly again. We’ll bandage it close to her body, so that she cannot move it until it has set, and then make a splint for the poor leg.’
Her fears forgotten, the child watched, fascinated, as he worked, and all the more so because while he fixed a fine splint to the shattered leg he told her the most wonderful story.
Meet the Author
Paul Gallico was one of America’s most celebrated writers. Since the first appearance of The Snow Goose in 1941, his reputation grew steadily among his many best-selling novels were Love, Let Me Not Hunger, The Small Miracle, the Mrs. ‘Arris series, and The Poseidon Adventure. In addition, he was a frequent contributor to leading magazines. Mr. Gallico died in 1976.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This book was read to me in seventh grade. I sent it overseas to a military husband in the Navy nearly 30 years ago. I read it aloud one evening 11 years ago to my then 16 year old son--who cried at the end, and asked me 'Why did you read me that book?' as the emotion had touched him as deeply as it touched all who read it. A story of hope in hopeless times, inspiration for all of us 'outsiders' who don't quite fit society's strict norms. A book I have lent many times,given as a gift, and kept forever.
This is a lovely little book, with a sad ending. It is thought provoking, and memorable. Courage, inner strength, and what constitutes true beauty, are issues dealt with by the author. It is a heartwarming/rending story about loyalty, friendships, kindnesses, unimagined bravery and love. Each experienced by a girl, a man and a beautiful snow goose. Recommended for both sexes, and anyone old enough to read.
no offense to all of you snow goose lovers out there but this book is the worst book i have ever had the misfortune to read. If anyone out there has choice to read this book for a book report or something....don't, for your own good.