Rubino’s illustrated children’s book follows a goose that’s adopted by a human family.
A white gosling attaches itself to a young boy named Joshua at summer camp. The boy brings the gosling home, and the animal develops human habits as it comes to be part of the family. It squawks when not given enough attention and insists on a bedtime snack. Because of the funny way the gosling walks, the father names it Scuttlebutt. As Scuttlebutt grows, Joshua’s mother tries to bring it to a nearby park so it can learn to coexist with other ducks and geese and eventually live on its own in the wild, but that turns out badly when the other birds attack Scuttlebutt. The family brings the bird back home, where it stays until the family brings it to live on a ranch with owners who have plenty of other farm animals. Eventually, Scuttlebutt adapts to her new surroundings and starts a family with a gander. Author Rubino demonstrates a good eye for storytelling detail, and Drewes’ colorful, full-page illustrations add to readers’ enjoyment of the story. The concept—a gosling adopted by a family then acts like a human child—is rife with comic possibilities, but Rubino opts not to take that route too far. Quirky aspects of Scuttlebutt’s personality, such as her enjoying cartoons on television, are merely mentioned but not elaborated upon. Joshua and Scuttlebutt bond to the point where the bird kisses him and considers him its mother, yet Joshua gives her up rather quickly. Even more surprisingly, the boy doesn’t express his feelings over losing his beloved pet. Once Scuttlebutt moves to the ranch, Joshua and his family are dropped from the story, and an opportunity is lost to explore the complex emotions a child and his or her family feel when a strong bond with a pet is broken.
An enjoyable story that needs to goose up its message.