CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 1 . . . .September 2, 2005
That one gargoyle is the unlikely protagonist of Lena Coakley's intriguing and unusual picture book, Mrs. Goodhearth and the Gargoyle. When dignified, silver haired Mrs. Goodhearth moves into Great House, the gargoyle is delighted. Now he has someone to watch and to tease. The gargoyle shakes blossoms onto Mrs. Goodhearth's head as she breakfasts on the upstairs balcony and drops acorns and twigs into her tea.
He is confident that Mrs. Goodhearth doesn't see him, but one day she leaves something shiny and small on the balcony. The gargoyle climbs down to the balcony and picks up the mysterious object.
When the weather turns cold, Mrs. Goodhearth no longer appears on her balcony. The gargoyle is certain he has been forgotten. He mopes, deciding he will be just like the other gargoyles, "as still as sadness." Then one wintry day, Mrs. Goodhearth reappears with his precious spoon and a clever plan which culminates in a meeting with her stony friend. The ending of Mrs. Goodhearth and the Gargoyle is one that will delight readers young and old.
The development of a friendship between a mischievous, hyperactive gargoyle and an elegant, elderly woman is an unusual, if not bizarre, idea for a picture book. Yet the theme of love and loneliness is beautifully served in this stunningly illustrated book.
Wendy Bailey's gargoyle is both hideously ugly and entirely lovable. Her depiction of Mrs. Goodhearth's face captures the character's compassionate nature and intuitive wisdom perfectly.
Linda Coakley's simple, well-crafted prose is well suited to a story where much meaning lies between the lines. Young listeners will no doubt argue as to whether or not Mrs. Goodhearth knows that the gargoyle is watching and teasing her and why a spoon is so attractive to a gargoyle. Mrs. Goodhearth and the Gargoyle should prove a most satisfactory story time read-aloud for the 5 to 8 age group.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.