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The Goose Girl
By Shannon Hale
Read by Cynthia Bishop and the Full Cast Family

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The Goose Girl

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The Goose Girl
By Shannon Hale
Read by Cynthia Bishop and the Full Cast Family
Full Cast Audio, (2005)
An Unabridged Audio Recording on 10 CDs.
ISBN: 1-932076-72-7
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 5, 2005

The Goose Girl is a charming retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale of the same name. In writing this story Shannon Hale has taken a rather short and sketch tale and fleshed it out, giving the characters greater depth and expanding upon the brief accounting given in the original fairytale. A great story on its own, Hale's version of The Goose Girl truly comes to life in this Full Cast Audio production of the story that features a cast of more than forty actors!

The Goose Girl follows a linear story line, and follows Anidori-Kiladra, a Kildenree Princess from her birth onward. During her younger years, Ani, as the Princess was known, is cared for by her aunt, a woman with unique skills and knowledge. From her, Ani discovers her own unique talents, which set her apart from her peers. For you see, Ani is able to understand the language of the animals and to communicate with them. This is a skill that is not understood by those around her, and she finds that she is more comfortable with her animal friends than the humans around her. Worse, this talent frightens many of those around, which causes them to distrust her.

Shortly before she turns sixteen, Ani is faced with a number of tragedies. First her beloved father dies. Next she is packed off to Bayern to marry a prince she does not know just to seal a treaty and to prevent war between the two kingdoms. The final tragedy occurs while on her way to her new home, when her lady-in-waiting and best friend, Selia, betrays her! Selia steals Ani's identity and rides off on Falada (Ani's horse) to marry the Bayernian Prince, leaving Ani to die alone in the forest. Bereft of her friends and family, Ani must fend for herself. To survive, she eventually becomes a simple goose girl, working for the King's household where she was once destined to rule. Although you can probably guess how the story will end, you will nonetheless be thrilled with Hale's account of how Ani makes a new life for herself and the lessons that she learns while working as a lowly goose girl.

This is a story that will delight listeners of all ages, and it is ideal for family listening. The Goose Girl is a well plotted, suspenseful, vivacious, and throughly charming story. Most import, the Full Cast Audio cast performs this book as if it were a stage play, complete with sound effects and music. In this recording they present the book in an unabridged format with the exception that some 'he said, she said' type attributions have been removed for the sake of continuity.

Whether you have read the print version of The Goose Girl, or if this is your first introduction to the story, you will be stunned with the breadth of emotion that this story evokes. You'll also discover that this is a story that you can listen to time and again, for it does not grow stale - an important consideration if you happen to have a young one who falls in love with the story and wants to listen to it repeatedly. Perhaps most significant, this is simply an enthralling story that is sure to become a classic that will delight the generations to come.

As a side note, this outstanding performance of The Goose Girl also includes an enlightening afterward by that book's author, Shannon Hale in which she discusses how she came to write this book.

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