The Singing Geese: A Black Tall Tale from Maryland

The Singing Geese: A Black Tall Tale from Maryland

by Jan Wahl, Sterling A. Brown
     
 
Jan Wahl has retained the rhythmic, sly humor of this tall tale from Maryland told him by an old black man. When Sam Bombel goes out one day to hunt his dinner, he sees flying overhead a great big flock of geese, all singing:
La lee loo. Come quilla, come quilla. Bang, bang, bang! Quilla bang.
ReadersÆ appetites will be whetted as they watch

Overview

Jan Wahl has retained the rhythmic, sly humor of this tall tale from Maryland told him by an old black man. When Sam Bombel goes out one day to hunt his dinner, he sees flying overhead a great big flock of geese, all singing:

La lee loo. Come quilla, come quilla. Bang, bang, bang! Quilla bang.
ReadersÆ appetites will be whetted as they watch the farmerÆs wife pluck and roast the goose that Sam brings home. But just as he is about to stick his knife in that delicious-looking goose, swoosh, in through the window flies the whole flock to rescue the unlucky bird. Readers can sing the refrain to the music provided. Sterling BrownÆs rich, glossy oil paintings add drama to this brisk retelling of a cautionary tale.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wahl (Little Eight John) first heard this story from an elderly African American man who was sitting on his porch; together with Brown (Tailypo), he recaptures the homespun magic of both the tale and the telling. When Sam Bombel shoots a goose for dinner, he soon discovers this is no ordinary bird: it belongs to an enchanted flock that sings a strange song, "La lee loo. Come quilla, come quilla. Bang, bang, bang! Quilla bang." As Sam's wife readies the bird for roasting, "each feather, as she plucked it, flew out, out, out of the window," and the flock's song continues to haunt the couple while they prepare to eat it. Just before Sam digs in, the flock flies in, singing their strange song, and liberates their rejuvenated comrade. That's enough for Sam: when last seen, he is happily harvesting carrots and "never went hunting again." While Brown's oil paintings are realistic in style, his milk chocolate browns, butter yellows and celery greens have a luxurious quality that fills every page with a heightened sense of wonder. Wahl's writing is economical, yet captures the rhythms of a yarn spun on a country afternoonreaders can almost hear the narrator's sly voice and see his mischievous grin. A melody for the geese's song is included on the final page. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Catherine Campbell Wright
One seemingly ordinary day, Sam Bombel goes out into his fields to hunt his dinner. Looking up, he sees a large flock of geese, singing as they soar. Sam points his rifle and shoots down one of the geese. As it falls, it sings and sings. As Sam's wife plucks its feathers, each one drifts out the window. And as it cooks, the goose continues to sing and sing. When Sam's wife sets the cooked goose on the table, it sings again. What happens next will delight and surprise young readers who are just beginning to lament the poor goose's fate. Colorful, expressive paintings give depth and personality to the story's characters, human and bird alike.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-2An African-American tall tale in which Sam Bombel shoots a singing goose and takes it home (though it does not appear to be dead) and commands his wife to pluck it and roast it. Just as Sam is about to carve it, the goose raises its head and sings a song. The song is answered by a flock of geese that flies through the window. They lift the cooked goose right out of the pot and they all fly away. And Sam Bombel never went hunting again. The very brief story is told in plain, unadorned language. It includes the goose's repeated song ("La lee loo. Come quilla, come quilla. Bang, bang, bang! Quilla bang.") The music appended is a haunting melody that is not easily sung. The realistic oil illustrations, while not distinguished in themselves, do have exaggerated expressions and perspectives that add humor. Even admitting that this is a tall tale, the pictures of the living goose being plucked, and of the cooked goose sitting in its roasting pan rawhead up, eyes wide, full of pin feathersnot only strain credibility, but are also vaguely repellent. A brief note on the flap states that the author heard this story from an old black man in West Virginia. Like many folktales, this one is bound to be livelier in the telling than it is on the written page. This story can be found, without music, in Jean Cothran's classic collection With a Wig With a Wag and Other American Folk Tales (David McKay, 1954; o.p.).Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525674993
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/01/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.36(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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