________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 17. . . .January 7, 2011


Gadzooks: The Christmas Goose.

Jennifer McGrath Kent.
Halifax, NS: Nimbus, 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55109-794-7.

Subject Heading:
Canada goose-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Jonine Bergen.

*** /4



Corina was in the kitchen making rosehip jelly with her grandmother when the storm struck. It hammered at the door and threw sleet at the windows. It blew the shingles off the henhouse. It tipped over the tool shed and blew the weather vane off the barn. It blew a Canada goose out of the sky.

"Gadzooks," Grandpa grumbles after seeing the mess left by the storm. When he finds an injured Canada goose, however, he starts to consider putting goose on the menu for Christmas dinner. His granddaughter, Corina, befriends the goose and tries to protect him as his curiosity leads him from mishap to mishap always one feather closer to the Christmas roasting pan.

internal art      Jennifer McGrath Kent deftly handles her characterization of the grumpy grandpa and bumbling goose in this whimsical Christmas tale. As always, Kent excels at setting the scene while moving the story forward with her particularly effective word choice and cadence of writing. She has an innate sense of how much description is required to set the scene and knows when to pare down to the bare plot line.

     Kent also excels at creating real and memorable characters. For example, Grandpa's use of "Gadzooks" changes throughout the story to express emotions from surprise to anger while defining the character of the man for the readers.

     The humour and sweetness of Kent's story is ably illustrated by Ivan Murphy's antique-toned watercolours. Murphy's ability to depict movement personifies the mess the goose continually leaves behind him.

     Murphy's paintings take the reader to the coast of New Brunswick to depict the winds that could blow a goose into the life of a little girl. Murphy is very effective in evoking a sense of nostalgia and history through his use of sepia tones for the backgrounds of his paintings. Stylistically, his palette is filled with the colours of Christmas. Reds, yellows, and greens fill his pages, but he mutes them to create a feeling of a great memory being shared among friends.

     I wouldn't want a goose in my house especially at Christmas, but Gadzooks is welcome to share our shelf of Christmas favourites; as long as he stays in the book where he belongs. Gadzooks: The Christmas Goose will be a particularly effective read-aloud.

Highly Recommended.

Jonine Bergen is a librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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