CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 19 . . . . May 25, 2001
Once upon a time, in a northern town, there lived a wealthy merchant by the name of Leroy King. Of all his possessions, he most treasured his only child.Adapted from the traditional fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, The Golden Goose is a wonderfully humourous blend of the "old" and the "new." As the above excerpt well demonstrates, Reid has maintained the "feel" of the language that readers have come to associate with traditional literature; however, Reid's trademark plasticine illustrations place the story firmly in the "now." Consequently, the "king" is Leroy King, owner of a large car dealership, while the "princess" is his daughter, Gwendolyn, whom he lovingly refers to as "Princess." Other such modern transpositions include the story's "coachman" being a school bus driver and the "roadside inn" a motel.
Leroy King's surprise for his daughter's sixteenth birthday was a new car, but, to provide her with a castle-like garage for it, he had to cut down her favourite climbing tree and pave over the frog pond, actions which contributed to his "Princess'" continuing unhappiness. After this quick double page spread introduction to the "royalty," the story switches to the forested home of the woodcutter's widow who has three sons, two of whom she clearly favours over the youngest, Rupert, a daydreamer. In turn, the elder brothers are sent into the forest by their mother to cut some wood and "make us our fortune." Each meets an "old, grey man" who asks the brothers to share their food and drink, but each, after selfishly refusing to do so, suffers an injury while cutting wood. When Rupert goes forth, he shares his meager provisions and is rewarded with a goose whose feathers are made of gold. Taking "Goldie" to town, Rupert encounters the innkeeper's "restaurant waitress" daughter who attempts to steal a golden feather but instead becomes stuck to the goose, thereby becoming the first in a long train of "stuck" people trailing after Rupert. When Gwendolyn sees this amusing sight, she laughs, causing her father to declare that, if Rupert "can get my little girl to smile three more times," half of his wealth will be Rupert's. Not only does Rupert succeed, but, in so doing, he restores the paved over garage site to his natural state, further enchanting Gwendolyn. Interestingly, perhaps in recognition that daughters are no longer considered a father's "property," Rupert and Gwendolyn do not obviously get married, although there is a party that lasted for days, and readers are told that "Rupert and Gwendolyn were so happy in each other's company that they are together to this very day."
While the story is most worthy in its own right, Reid's freeze frame illustrations again are a visual treat filled with delightful action and eye-capturing details that can be relished over several re-readings. A "must" additional to all library collections and a most worthy gift book for children.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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