The Snow Goose

May 27, 2010

Last week I came across an interesting endeavour on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book program:  a number of well-known authors had been recruited to put forth nominations of “forgotten treasures of the literary world – books that have been overlooked or become inexplicably out of vogue and which most deserved to be re-read and reinstated onto our bookshelves.”  The winning selection presented by Michael Morpurgo was a beloved book of mine, The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico.  The story recounts the relationship between a young girl and a reclusive lighthouse keeper who share in the recovery of an injured snow goose during wartime. The Dunkirk evacuation plays a significant role in the story. In fact “A story of Dunkirk” is the subtitle in UK editions. Short on pages this gorgeous tale is loooong on memorable heart wrenching emotion. I had planned this post already but when I woke up this morning to the news that today begins the 70th anniversary of Dunkirk I knew the topic was destined to be!  It is a wonderful book to read yourself but can also be shared with your older children and teens. It has been assigned reading in many schools. 

A quick review of the historical background according to The Telegraph:

The Dunkirk evacuation, dubbed Operation Dynamo, saw 338,000 troops rescued from the beaches of northern France between May 27 and June 4, 1940. It came after the speed of the German advance through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France left nearly half a million British and French troops trapped there. The rescue was led by the Royal Navy, which drafted in ships and boats of every size including pleasure boats, private yachts and launches. Described as a ”miracle of deliverance” by British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, it is seen as one of several events in 1940 that determined the eventual outcome of the war.

To read more about the Evacuation of Dunkirk and to see images read here.

To listen to the “Neglected Classics” piece on BBC Radio 4 and to hear an excerpt from The Snow Goose read aloud, click here.  The fascinating recent follow up on the Open Book  show is here. To learn more about the cultural impact of this story, click here.

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