Perry (Composition/Rochester Inst. of Technology) hatches a debut children’s book about a gander who’s determined to distinguish himself on a journey of discovery.
Gargle, after having a bad day, decides to take point and lead his community’s migration south. This is a position of honor, and, after an energizing breakfast of hot dog buns and lightning bugs, he feels prepared to earn it despite his friends’ doubts. Gargle’s plans quickly go awry when he finds himself alone in uncharted territory eating trash. As he struggles to make it back to his family, he befriends a lonely, sarcastic donkey named Luckless. The unlikely pair continue Gargle’s journey until they meet a farmer who manages an illegal foie gras factory and a cunning fox. The fox is eager to make a nice supper of Gargle, but he and Luckless convince her otherwise by insisting that they can grant her access, through the farmer, to all the geese in the factory. Gargle once had a portly gander friend who escaped from a similar factory, but he didn’t believe his stories—until he sees the farmer force-feeding geese with a tube. A series of mishaps, both serious and silly, result from the three animals’ plans. What began as a story of Gargle’s quest to prove himself quickly becomes one about a struggle to survive by outsmarting both fox and farmer. Perry is a fearless writer, braiding the harsh realities of the agricultural world together with absurd plot twists and a seemingly Camelot-inspired ending. Despite these bold narrative moves, however, what will linger most is the wealth of goose- and bird-related puns that the author is able to work into both the dialogue and narration. Verstraete’s black-and-white illustrations appear at the beginning of each short chapter, though readers may desire more of them, to better demonstrate to children the comedic and harsh elements of this fictional world.
A deeply entertaining book with a strong political message for young readers and their grown friends.