Papa Goose by Michael Quetting
Subtitle: One year,
seven goslings, and the flight of my life. Black Inc, 2018. ISBN 9781760640750
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Non-fiction. Scientific researcher Michael Quetting zealously cares for 7 goose eggs - these are to become his little gosling family, each bird a character of its own: from the glorious firstborn Gloria, adventurous Nemo and his foolhardy love of water, to the moody Frieda, to feisty Calimero, gentle Maddin, loyal Paula and little Nils - we get to know them all. Quetting has the challenge of raising the goslings to become a flight crew of geese gathering data about weather and flight patterns. The geese have to learn to accept Quetting as their doting parent and follow his lead, eventually learning to fly alongside his ultralight plane carrying data recorders on their back. At first things seem to go smoothly, the goslings snuggle up to their foster dad, rush immediately to his side at the beep of his rubber horn, and they are unperturbed by the sound of the plane propeller. But as the goslings grow into teenager geese, there are the first signs of contrary independence and rebellion.
Quetting had just been through the ordeal of a divorce, and the budding relationship with the little balls of fluffy feathers brings him a new sense of peace and calm, away from the demands of his old life. He becomes content just to be with them and enjoy the simple things in nature. It is so heartwarming to read of the goslings' complete trust in him, trotting out in a line behind him across the fields, and snuggling up beneath his jumper when they are tired . . . and then gradually gaining the confidence to stretch their wings and fly in formation alongside his plane. But there are many hazards along the way, and not everything goes smoothly.
This story is a real delight to read; as we get to know the personalities of the geese, and share in the interactions Quetting has with them. It is not easy to accept that eventually there will be a parting of ways as the experiment comes to an end. Along the way there are laughs and many lessons to learn about trust and love, and finding inner peace.