BooksForKidsBlog

Friday, January 01, 2016

Bringing Up Gosling! Mother Goose Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce is a recluse.

Bruce is a grouch.

HE DID NOT LIKE SUNNY DAYS.

HE DID NOT LIKE CUTE LITTLE ANIMALS.

BRUCE ONLY LIKED ONE THING--EGGS.

You might say Bruce is a bird watcher. He watches all the birds in the forest, watching for an opportunity to "borrow" their eggs, openly robbing their nests for the delicacies he concocts with his collection of egg recipes borrowed from the internet. One day he comes across an enticing dish, featuring hard-boiled eggs in honey sauce over salmon.

Bruce pulls out his personal shopping cart and sets out to collect the ingredients. He catches some fresh salmon and then relieves the bees of some of their honey.

(HE LIKED TO SUPPORT LOCAL BEES, YOU SEE.)

That only leaves the main attraction--eggs. Luckily, Mrs. Goose has a nice clutch going.

"ARE THESE FREE-RANGE ORGANIC?" HE ASKED.

Back home, Bruce puts the goose eggs in a saucepan to cook, but when he returns with firewood to stoke the stove, he finds four just-hatched goslings standing in a footbath of warm water in the pot.

Now we all know what young birds do when they hatch! Yes! They imprint on the first moving thing they see, and that's ... Mother Goose Bruce!

"MAMA?"

Bruce is nonplussed. He grabs up his gaggle of goslings and heads back to Mrs. Goose's nest to return the defective merchandise. He finds only a sign:

[BE BACK IN APRIL!]

That's not good news. Bruce has got the baby goose blues! They follow him everywhere, despite his stern orders to shoo!

"I'M NOT YOUR MOTHER!"

Perhaps he can induce the geese to migrate. He rigs a slingshot between two saplings to shoot them into a southerly route. No luck. He buys them little single-engine model planes and tries to send them off into the wild blue yonder. They circle back, honking "MAMA!" and wearing warm mufflers and knit caps, all set to winter over with Mother Bruce.

Like it or not, Mother Goose Bruce is stuck raising his little flock. Wearing water wings and swim fins, he dutifully supervises first swimming lessons in their little plastic pool. He books a motel on the beach in Miami, hoping that they'll get the urge to stay south. He suffers through all the usual parental stages:

ANNOYING BABY GEESE.

STUBBORN TEENAGE GEESE.

BORING ADULT GEESE.

It's an unusual blended family, all right, in Ryan T. Higgins hilarious hit, Mother Bruce (Hyperion Books, 2015). Newbie author-illustrator Higgins hits all the marks in this, his first book. His wry and ironic text is pitch perfect in its sly but loving spoof of parenting, and his illustrations are both lovely and comic, opening with a charming woodsy scene reminiscent of Disney's Snow White's forest and beguiling goslings that are kissing-cousin likenesses of Olivier Dunrea's Gossie (Gossie & Friends), and still providing laugh-out loud scenes--game goslings in flight helmets in little open-cockpit airplanes, his "boring teenage geese" slouching about with earphones, and Bruce and one grown gosling, stretched out in beach chairs with sunglasses and iced drinks with little umbrellas, while another is followed out of the ocean by a tiny sea turtle, ironically piping "Mama?"

Kids and grownups alike will find a lot to like together in this one, a great family read-aloud. "Visually beautiful, clever, edgy and very funny," says Kirkus' starred review.

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