Saturday, June 1, 2013

Take a Gander at Geese!

Two weeks ago I featured some of my students’ artwork modeled after Mo Willems’ goslings from That Is Not a Good Idea! The kids loved making those darling animals almost as much as they loved the book. At the time, I thought I’d pair the story with a nonfiction book about geese but I couldn’t find one appropriate for the five to seven-year-old crowd. I searched on-line through our county library system and, though I didn’t find a perfect match, I found a wonderful book, Geese by Darice Bailer. It came in to our local library on Tuesday and so this week we were able to compare and contrast facts and fiction.

Geese by Darice Bailer (2010, Hardcover)

Darice Bailer’s book was written for grades three and above so it was a bit advanced for my students but I was able to modify the text as I read and the kids had a chance to see beautiful photos of real geese and goslings. They may not be as expressive as Willems’ hatchlings but there is no denying the down covered babies in this book are adorable. I was as enthralled as my students when I turned to page twenty and saw a mother Canada goose with a young gosling nestled on her back, sleeping. The photos in this book inspired several “oh look!” and “how cute” and general sighs of longing to own a fluffy young gosling. They also inspired some imitative drawings. Take a look:


The stately neck of the adult Canada goose caught the eye of several of my students and they were amazed to discover:

“The Canada goose has excellent hearing and can even hear a nearby dog’s tail wag!”

The kids were charmed when I read about the family life of geese – they choose their mates for life and work together to protect their young. When a goose needs to leave her nest, her mate keeps an eye on her and her eggs.

“If a predator approaches the mother goose or the nest, the gander will stand up tall, stretch out his neck, and hiss. He will chase after the intruder and attack it with his wings.”

My students wondered if a gander might chase off a fox like the one pretending to court the goose in Mo Willem’s story. I couldn’t answer with authority but I have my doubts. The hungry fox pictured in Darice Bailer’s book didn’t look like he’d run from an angry gander! On the same page, we read that in 1975, biologists moved Canada geese onto a fox-free island to protect the endangered Aleutian Canada geese from that predator. It sounds like those ganders weren’t taking on any foxes.

With the emphasis on balancing fiction and nonfiction in the Common Core Standards, I was happy to find this appealing fact-filled book. Perhaps next year I’ll find a more age-appropriate pairing for Mo Willems’ book. I hope to find many such pairings and if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. 

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