Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers
John Burningham ~ Jonathan Cape, 1969
John Burningham's first book for children only recently came into our possession, and yet it feels as if it's always been here. Birds are my son's first love, so despite all the Harry Potters and Captain Rexs that might come into his life, nothing warms his heart like a water fowl. On page one, we meet a pair of geese named Mr. and Mrs. Plumpster. Shortly thereafter, they hatch out some goslings, and the story really begins.
Now, all geese look very much alike when they are young, but right from the start there was something odd about Borka. Borka had a beak, wings, and webbed feet like all her brothers and sister, but she did not have any feathers. Mr. and Mrs. Plumpster were very worried about this. They called in the doctor goose, who came along with his little leather bag. The doctor examined Borka carefully and said there was nothing wrong with her except that she did not have any feathers. "A most unusual case," he went on, and he thought for a long while. Then he told Mrs. Plumpster that there was only one thing to do. She must knit some feathers for Borka.
Momma does just that, but despite his woolly demeanor, Borka is outcast and gets left behind come migrating time. Weep not for Borka, though. She stows away on a ship, makes friends with a dog and a fishing boat captain, becomes a first-rate first mate, falls in love and lives happily ever after in Kew Gardens. A excellent Ugly Duckling-ish tale proving that if you seem different or odd in your own home town, there's sure to be a place for you in the city where "already so many strange kinds of birds" flock together.
Charming illustrations introducing the man who would marry the equally awesome Helen Oxenbury and become one of Britain's most renowned children's book authors. Excellent.
John Patrick Norman McHennessy - the boy who was always late
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