cover image Rebel


John Schoenherr. Philomel Books, $15.99 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22727-1

In this unsentimental portrayal of wildlife, two Canadian geese return to a pond to nest. At first, the story centers on their preparation and division of duties. But when five goslings arrive, the narrative divides, almost imperceptibly, into two separate stories: the text continues to cast a cozy spell of homespun bliss, while the illustrations cleverly spin their own tale, that of one gosling's often dangerous attempts at independence. For example, one illustration depicts the curious gosling swimming away from the flock to chase a moth, unaware of the menacing snapper looming beneath the pond's surface. The accompanying text tells a different tale: ``Like one bird they swim together, eating all they can.'' Schoenherr's (Owl Moon; Bear) powerful, understated watercolors disarm whatever tensions may arise from the downy rebel's adventures by balancing them with elegant, fluid lines. Still, the particularly foreboding ending remains haunting. Although the text seems to indicate the parents' intention to wait for their little maverick before flying south, the open-ended illustrations hint at an unsettling conclusion. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)