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The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) Hardcover – August 4, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 460 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Books of Bayern Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9-A magical retelling of the Grimms's fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen. Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, is born with the ability to speak to animals, a gift that is nurtured by her aunt. When the king dies, the queen announces that Ani's younger brother, not the crown princess, will succeed her on the throne. Unbeknownst to anyone, the queen has promised Ani in marriage to the prince of neighboring Bayern. The devastated teen is sent with a retinue over the mountains to Bayem and is betrayed by Selia, her lady-in-waiting, and most of her guards during the journey. Ani escapes, takes the name "Isi," disguises her distinctive blonde hair, and becomes a tender of geese to survive until she can reveal her true identity and reclaim her crown from the imposter, Selia. Ani meets and falls in love with Geric, who is, conveniently, the prince she is to marry. She is able to convince him and the king of her identity, marry, become queen, and stop a war between the kingdoms. This retelling retains many similarities to the original tale, including the gruesome punishment for treason. Hale's retelling is a wonderfully rich one, full of eloquent description and lovely imagery, and with a complex plot, a large cast of characters, and a strong female protagonist. Fans of high fantasy will be delighted with this novel, the first in a planned trilogy, and impatiently await those to follow.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-10. She can whisper to horses and communicate with birds, but the crown princess Ani has a difficult time finding her place in the royal family and measuring up to her imperial mother. When she is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom as a bride, her scheming entourage mounts a bloody mutiny to replace her with a jealous lady-in-waiting, Selia, and to allow an inner circle of guards more power in the new land. Barely escaping with her life, Ani disguises herself as a goose girl and wanders on the royal estate. Does she have the pluck to reclaim her rightful place? Get ready for a fine adventure tale full of danger, suspense, surprising twists, and a satisfying conclusion. The engaging plot can certainly carry the tale, but Hale's likable, introspective heroine makes this also a book about courage and justice in the face of overwhelming odds. The richly rendered, medieval folkloric setting adds to the charm. Anne O'Malley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Series: Books of Bayern
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books (August 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158234843X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582348438
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (460 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Heidi Anne Heiner VINE VOICE on October 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Debut author Shannon Hale succeeds wonderfully with her first novel, "The Goose Girl." A retelling of the moderately well-known tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, she reinvents the story for a modern audience.
Ani, a crown princess, learns at an early age that her special gifts are not those valued by her queen mother and her future subjects. She is eventually sent to marry a prince in a different kingdom, but along the way is overthrown by her lady-in-waiting. Ani becomes a servant, tending geese, while she searches for a way to return to the marriage and throne that is rightfully her own.
Hale has reimagined the story in such a way as to give us a strong, if flawed, heroine with a conscience. In this book, the reader isn't left wondering how a princess could allow herself to be displaced so easily from her birthright. We are also given a magical reason for Ani's successful sojourn with geese. Ultimately, Hale's prose is the book's greatest asset. Ani and her world are vivid creations, ready to be shared during a long, quiet read.
If you enjoy fairy tale novelizations, such as those by Robin McKinley and Donna Jo Napoli, this book will make a great addition to your bookshelf. If you simply like historical fantasy, forget the fairy tale, this novel will also please. Royalty, deception, intrigue, treason, and redemption make up a story that doesn't obviously derive from a fairy tale.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those who are not familiar with the Grimm's fairy tale this book is based on, this review contains some things you may consider SPOILERS. Know that it follows the original story line in all the main points, but fleshes out the characters and gives cool explanations for the abilities of the maid/princess/etc to do the things they do. (But, like, really? You never read that fairy tale? So good. Go read it.)

One of my very fave fairy tales as a very young Mir was "The Goose Girl". I especially loved reading aloud the rhymes--'Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it/Sadly, sadly, would she rue it," and "Blow, wind, blow." I was horrified in that particular, sensitive way of children that someone would decapitate a lovely horse such as Falada, the beloved, talking horse of the princess protagonist. Clearly, evil was afoot if such a dastardly deed was conscionable. I imagined Curdken's chase for his cap. (In my chikdhood's version of the tale, that was his name. In other versions--and in this retelling--it's Conrad's hat that goes rolling over hill and dale, sparking his pursuit. And I delighted in the horrible, terrible justice that befell the villainess. Just thinking about it makes me feel 6 years old all over again, feeling the magic of the story--all the stories--and how to a child, all this was so plausible: that a horse should talk, that the lock of hair should speak (some versions have drops of blood on a hanky), that a princess should command the wind, that justice would prevail.
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Format: Paperback
Shannon Hale just won a Newbery Honor for her latest book, The Princess Academy, and my wife raves about Hale's The Goose Girl - for good reason. An extrapolation of the Grimm brothers' tale of the same name, Goose Girl chronicles a princess' fall from power and long climb back up from where she lands - tending the royal geese in the far-off land where she was supposed to marry the prince.

Goose Girl matches the tone and magic of fairy tales, while delving more deeply into character and consequence. I fell into the no-nonsense prose and moved swiftly through the tale, happy that the story's slower, more poignant moments didn't necessarily read that way. Unfortunately, Hale's even style also dulled some of the more exciting moments; there were at least two occasions where I felt serious action in the book demanded more electric, exciting prose. It almost felt as if surviving a rather vicious coup carried the exact same weight as playing chase with a goose.

But the narration always reminds us that what we are reading is a fairy tale, and like most fairy tales, this one has its pleasingly predictable ups and downs, and its happily ever after. I did think the end game was a bit messy though. I accept those "I have you now, Mr. Bond - but I'm not going to kill you until you've had a chance to escape/be saved" moments in some fiction (see for example, um, well, almost every James Bond movie) but in books like this I am a bit disappointed when the protagonist puts herself in a bad position, and then lives to tell the tale only because the bad guys didn't run her through when they had the chance.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Shannon Hale's version of "The Goose Girl" last week, all 500-something pages of it. My reading experience is as follows:

ME (at pg. 10): This is so lame. Why doesn't this woman use contractions?

ME (at pg. 25): I've got a million things to do. Something please happen.

ME (at pg. 50): I hate fantasy.

ME (at pg. 75): This is probably the stupidest book I've ever read.


And then I read sans sleep. But sleep is a nasty habit anyway. I'm trying to quit. Hale adapts the Grimm fairy tale with surprising accuracy, and adds different twists.

Story goes: A princess, on the way to her betrothed's kingdom, is usurped by her Lady-in-Waiting, and she is forced to take care of the goosies. And then, in the end, all is revealed, and everyone sings and dances, except for the Lady-in-Waiting, who dies in a barrel full of nails. That's Brothers Grimm for you.

Okay, so it has a slow beginning and formal language, and that wasn't cool. It also lacks any sort of humor, sadly enough (except a very funny line about eating chickens.) But it's intense. And suspenseful. And that was cool. Hale's able to draw the reader along and get them involved in the book. I yelled at it more than once, something I haven't done since "Harry Potter."

I think how she put the character in constant danger (she's being hunted by mutineers, has fled into hiding, that sort of thing) is what involved me the most. The characters ho-hum to being with, but are more likeable the further you get into the book. In fact, I didn't care a fig about wuz-her-face until around the middle of the book. Very intense, though.
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