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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Goose Is Getting Fat, written by Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. Egmont, Publishers Group West. 2013. $9.95 ages 6 and up

"And so it was that Charlie came to rear the Christmas goose. The fluffy, flippered gosling was soon exploring every part of the orchard and soon outgrew her bad-tempered foster mother. The hen shadowed her for as long as she could. Then she gave up and went back to the farmyard."

A plump goose is just what the farmer ordered for Christmas dinner. That farmer is Charlie's father, and Gertrude is the goose. Charlie's mother doesn't like the job of fattening the goose and then eating it; this year that job goes to Charlie, who is quite honored to care for the goose until Christmas Day and ensure that she is fed and fattened properly.

"We thought that this year we all three of us could look after the goose, you know, together like. Charlie boy can feed her up each day and drive her in each night. He can fatten her up for us. I'll kill her when the time comes - I know it seems a terrible thing to do, but what's got to be done has got to be done - and perhaps you wouldn't mind doing the little bit of plucking at the end for us. How would that be, my lovely?"

So, Charlie spends his days with Gertrude, watching her eat and grow. As you might guess, Charlie falls under her charm as they work together. Soon, he is concerned about Gertrude's fate:

"As a farmer's son he knew that most of the animals on the farm went for slaughter. It was an accepted fact of life; neither a cause for sorrow nor rejoicing. Sick lambs, rescued piglets, ill suckling calves - Charlie helped to care for all of them and had already developed that degree of detachment that a farmer needs unless he is to be on the phone to the vet five times a day."

Charlie is very proud of his goose, and cannot imagine eating her. So, he does what he can to prevent Gertrude's fate as the star of their Christmas dinner. With his father encouraging him to feed Gertrude oatmeal and Christmas drawing ever closer, Charlie can think of nothing but his goose. His elaborate rescue plan is devised and considered over and over again. Finally, it's time to put his plan into action.

Will he be able to save his lovely goose?

If you need a sweet and funny story to add to a Christmas stocking, you would do well to find this tiny treat. Then, you would have a wonderful story to share with guests on Christmas Day!


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