The Goose Girl
Genres: middle grade fantasy, fairy tales
AR Level 5.9
Interest Level: Age 10+
In much the same way as Gail Carson Levine did with Ella Enchanted, Hale has brought a fairy tale to modern readers. The Goose Girl is a retelling of Grimm’s tale of the goose girl who became queen. Ani is the crown princess of the small kingdom of Kilendree. At age five, her mother and the court discover her strange ability to communicate with birds. From then on, Ani is regarded with suspicion and forbidden from interacting with animals. She is given rigorous lessons in queenly behavior in anticipation that she will ascend the throne, but she lacks confidence in her ability to rule. Unbeknownst to Ani, she is secretly bethrothed to the prince of neighboring Bayern as a peace negotiation. In her 16th year, Ani is sent with an entourage on the months-long journey to wed her unknown prince. Along the way there is mutiny, and Ani finds herself lost and alone in the vast forest. Eventually she makes her way to the capital of Bayern. She disguises, herself lest she be discovered by those who seek her life, and takes a job tending the king’s geese. Ani falls in love with the man she believes is the prince’s guard, gains a heart and compassion for the peasants in the city, and learns to command the wind. It is with the their help that Ani regains her rightful place at the side of the Bayern prince.
The Goose Girl is a delightful read, one that kept me up past midnight to finish. It’s full of emotional ups and downs, tragedy, dispair, growth of confidence, friendship, love. The romance, while not the focal point of the story, is well-played. Ani is a great example of a strong female lead who overcomes adversity. Hale has crafted an enchanting world that readers will want to enter again and again. Thankfully, we are able to do this in the continuing stories of Bayern, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Forest Born.
My only complaint is that the covers for the paperback editions were changed. Instead of whimsical illustrations there are pictures of real people. I prefer using my own imagination to picture the heroines.
With Goose Girl as my introduction, Shannon Hale has become one of my favorite children’s authors. I’ve now read almost all of her books and encourage everyone to check her out.
Reviewed by Ms. L