cover image Goose the Bear

Goose the Bear

Katja Gehrmann, trans. from the German by Connie Stradling Morby. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62636-384-7

A diminutive gosling makes a believer out of a condescending bear in Gehrmann’s tale, first published in Germany in 2009. A fox steals a goose egg but loses it when he collides with a bear (“Bears were not to be messed with”). When the egg hatches, the bear is underwhelmed. “Mama!’ cries the gosling. “I’m not your mama,” the bear says, uncomfortably. “I’m big and strong.... And you’re—different.” “Yes, Mama,” replies the gosling. Gehrmann works in cheerful wash and kinetically charged charcoal outlines, making the most of the contrast between the tiny gosling and the giant, lumpy bear. The bear’s confusion and contempt turn slowly to admiration as the gosling proves that she can fly as fast as he can climb and run, as well as swim right alongside him. And when she catches a huge salmon (knocking the fox smartly on the head with it), the bear’s perspective changes altogether: “The bear was proud. It could be his child.” Gehrmann’s light touch produces a story that works both as a straight comedy and, deeper down, as a fable about looking past differences. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)