Yellowbird Education Book of the Month, October 2017

The Snow Goose, by Paul Gallico.

I’m going back to a classic this month with the Snow Goose mainly because this has been the ‘Dunkirk Year’. This is a story set in the wilds of the Great Essex Marsh just before and during WW2. It is often used as a source for comprehensions.

A lonely hermit, Philip Rhayader, lives alone in a tumbledown lighthouse (the author lived in a lighthouse too) rejected by local society because of his scary looks. One day a young girl called Fritha finds a wounded snow goose on the marsh. Not knowing what else to do, she takes the bird to the hermit. At first she is frightened of him, but as he cares for the goose she sees a different side of him.

Fritha begins to visit the marsh regularly until the snow goose flies north for the summer. Once the bird has gone, Fritha no longer needs to come and the hermit feels his loneliness again. The following winter, however, the bird returns to the lighthouse and Fritha comes back. As time passes, Fritha realises that she has fallen for the strange, lonely man on the marsh.

However, war comes and in 1940 Rhayader answers the call to sail his boat to Dunkirk to help the soldiers that are trapped on the beaches. It is a sad, poignant story (worthy of Michael Morpurgo in content and poignancy) and well worth reading... and reading again if you’ve already read it.

This version includes a second short story THE SMALL MIRACLE about a boy’s love for his dangerously ill donkey. However, watch out for the version illustrated by Angela Barrett. The illustrations are stunning.


Suitable for readers aged 10+.