reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

Getting to Know Gossie

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7Imp posted an in-depth feature story about Olivier Dunrea last week, complete with intimate pictures of Dunrea’s home and workspace. Over here at Picture Book House, we are also fans, although I’ll admit it was love after countless readings, not first time through.

So far we only own two of the many books about the “‘…gaggle of thirteen diverse and spirited goslings,'” 7imp quotes Dunrea, describing his series.

Tonight I’m writing about Gossie (Houghton Mifflin, 2002), the original gosling in the gaggle. I picked Gossie up at Barnes and Noble because she was just so darn cute sitting on that display table. But after a few reads I remember saying to my Mom, who was over for a visit, “I just don’t love this book.”

“Really?” she said. “I do.”

Like Grandmother like Granddaughter. Soon enough, Gossie was the book being pulled from the shelf, plopped in my lap and read, over and over again.

Incredible things happen when you read Gossie over and over again.

1. Concepts of print unfold. The first time Gossie appears in the story she is hanging upside down from the top of the page. Before my daughter even had words, she had developed enough knowledge about how books work that she would grab the book out of my hand and flip it over so that Gossie was right side up.

I’d turn it back. She’d turn it over. Until finally I’d beat her to the flip, turn the page, and we’d see Gossie standing right side up and all would be right with the world. As she got a little bit older my daughter began to verbalize this problem, “The book is upside down!” she’d insist, flipping it over.

And then, one mixed-emotion day she said, “Mommy, why is Gossie upside down?” It was no longer the book’s problem, it was Gossie’s, and just like that our book flipping days were done.

2. Obsessions develop. My daughter is obsessed with the Gossie walking backwards page. Of course you wouldn’t necessarily know that Gossie is walking backwards except that the words below her read: “She walks backward.” And every time we get to this page my daughter asks breathlessly, “Is Gossie walking backwards?”

“Yes,” I answer.

“Is she walking backwards on this page?” (the next page)

“No, on this page she is walking forward.”

“Is she walking backwards on this page?” (pointing back to the walking backwards page)

“Yes.”

And so on. And so forth. For almost as long as we used to flip the book upside down and right side up.

3. Questions, good questions, get asked. This book is a simple, lovely story about Gossie, who wears her red boots “every day” until one day they go missing. (Spoiler alert:) She finally finds them. “They were walking. On someone else’s feet,” Dunrea writes. Gertie’s feet, that is. And the questions begin. “Who is bigger?” (Gossie or Gertie) “Is Gossie the Mommy?” “Are they friends?” “Who is bigger?”  “Why do they each have one boot?” “Who is bigger?” “BUT who is bigger?!”

Gossie has become one of our best buds and best books, and we look forward to meeting her friends.

Picture Book House Rating: Read it Again, Mommy!

(and stay tuned for our Picture Book House puppet rendition of Dunrea’s Easter book)

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