The Goose Girl (novel)

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The Goose Girl
The Goose Girl.jpg
First edition cover of The Goose Girl.
Author Shannon Hale
Cover artist Alison Jay (first edition), Juliana Kolesova (photograph cover)
Country United States
Language English
Series The Books of Bayern
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Bloomsbury Press
Publication date
August 8, 2003
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 383
ISBN 1-58234-843-X
OCLC 51042139
LC Class PZ8.H134 Go 2003
Preceded by none
Followed by Enna Burning

The Goose Girl is a fantasy novel by Shannon Hale based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same title. The book won the 2003 Josette Frank Award for youth fiction.


Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna bonds with her aunt, who becomes her nursemaid and constant companion. She tells Ani, as the Princess is soon nicknamed, stories about three gifts certain people have: people-speaking, animal-speaking and nature-speaking. The aunt says that Ani’s mother has the gift of people-speaking, as do many monarchs; she also says that she herself has the gift of animal-speaking. Though when Ani asks what gift she might have.

The aunt however soon returns to the forest, and Ani's mother, the queen, keeps Ani from using her gift of animal-speaking, for she thinks the people will not trust her if she communicates with beasts. Later, it is revealed that the aunt died that winter.

When Ani is fifteen, Her lady-in-waiting and close friend Selia, whose mother is the key-mistress, has the gift of people-speaking but is still kind. However, Ani’s inability to be sociable and perfect like her mother is soon revealed to the reader. She seeks solace in her horse, Falada, whom she can communicate with through mental communication, and goes out riding with her father the King, who is easier to get along with, but he soon dies, assumedly leaving Ani the throne. But after the funeral Ani’s mother proclaims that her eldest son, Ani’s younger brother, is inheriting the throne. She then reveals to Ani that, behind her and her father’s back, she engaged the girl to the Crown Prince of the neighboring powerful kingdom of Bayern, and that Ani is to travel there to marry him. Ani feels betrayed and even more isolated but complies.

Ani goes to Bayern, However, Ani observes odd activity between Selia and a guard Ungolad. Mutiny eventually ensues while Ani is absent from camp, but still watches the exchange. The mutineers, led by Selia and backed by most of the guard, decide to kill the Princess and replace her with Selia herself. Ani is forced to flee and leave behind Falada and her remaining supporters.

After days in the woods, Ani collapses in the garden of a Bayern woman named Gilsa. Gilsa says that she doesn't want to know Ani's story, preferring not to get mixed up in it. Then Ani assumes the identity of “Isi”, a forest-born who comes, along with others, to the Bayern capital to find work tending to animals in the capital. She tells stories to her fellow animal-workers. She tends to the geese, which she can communicate with, along with a boy named Conrad, and discovers that she also has the gift of nature-speaking, with the wind. Among the many she befriends is a Royal Guard named Geric, who she talks to while out in the fields.

However, her secret is discovered by her friend Enna, and later she is spotted in a festival by her erstwhile guards. Later, after literally being stabbed in the back by Ungolad she flees back to Gilsa, who fixes her up again and sends her back to the capital. In the time she was gone Enna was forced to reveal Ani’s secret, and as the wedding between the Prince and Selia, who had been leading the King of Bayern to believe that Kildenree was about to launch a surprise attack on the much stronger country of Bayern, and so the military is preparing to attack before Kildenree can, is about to take place, they ride to the castle it is to take place in. Ani confronts Selia and learns that the 'Guard' Geric is actually the Crown Prince, so the Bayern party retires and Selia and Ani talk. However, before Selia’s now-lover Ungolad can kill Ani, Geric and the King, who had been eavesdropping behind a curtain to figure out who the real princess was, intervene and a fight between Ani and the King’s supporters and Selia’s supporters ends in Geric and Ungolad fighting and both being stabbed, while Selia almost escapes.

Days later, after things quiet down and Geric recovers, Ani is called to prove that Kildenree is not planning an attack on Bayern. She quickly dismisses the “proof” they have and, smarting from the accusations, goes on to show them the injustice and segregation that she had witnessed while tending to the King’s geese, and leaves them astounded. Ani’s Forest friends are rejoicing on being finally recognized as official Bayerners.


Ani - A quiet girl from Kildenree, originally Crown Princess, later known as Isi. She learns animal-speaking from her aunt and eventually also learns wind-speaking. Her full name is Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee.

Selia - Ani's lady-in-waiting and former best friend, a people-speaker. Her mother is the key-mistress. She and most of Ani's guard betrayed Ani in the Forest. She tried to kill Ani during the journey to Bayern.

Falada - Ani's horse. He had a special connection with Ani because she heard and spoke the first word on his tongue, his name.

Ani's family - Her mother, the Queen of Kildenree. Her father, the King of Kildenree, whose name is revealed in "Enna Burning" to be Tusken. Her siblings (in order from oldest to youngest): brother Calib-Loncris (later Crown Prince, when Ani is sent away); sister Napralina-Victery; sister Susena-Ofelienna; and baby brother Rianno-Hancery. Her aunt, an animal-speaker, who taught Ani animal-speaking and told her stories.

Talone - Leader of the guards who accompanied Ani to Bayern, and remained loyal to her. Other guards who remained loyal to Ani were Adon, Dano, Ingras and Radal. Thought to be killed by Selia and the guards during the Forest massacre.

Ungolad - Leader of the guards who betrayed Ani in the Forest. He was in love with Selia. Some guards under his command were Ishta, Yulan, Terne and Hul.

Gilsa - Finn's mother, took care of Ani after she left the Forest massacre, and makes wool pullovers to sell on marketday. She acts brusque but is very caring and generous.

Finn - A Forest boy, Gilsa's son, sells his mother's wool pullovers on marketday.

Enna - A Forest girl, eventually one of Ani's best friends. She tends chickens. Main character of Enna Burning.

Razo - A Forest boy, eventually one of Ani's best friends. He tends sheep. Main character of River Secrets.

Geric - Crown Prince of Bayern, initially disguised himself as a guard to the prince when he met Ani. He and Ani fall in love and marry, as they were already betrothed.

Ideca - Mistress of the Forest workers.

Conrad - Goose boy, initially jealous of Ani.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2003 Josette Frank Award for fiction[1]
  • One of the New York City Public Library's 100 Books for Reading and Sharing
  • 2003 Utah Children's Book Award[2]
  • 2003 Utah Speculative Fiction Award
  • Finalist for the Mythopoeic Award[3]
  • 2004 Humpty Dumpty Chapter Book Award given by the Mid-South Independent Booksellers Association
  • 2005 Beehive Award Nominee[4]
  • 2006 Great Lakes Great Books finalist

Publication history[edit]


  1. ^ "Past Award Winners (1943-2006)". The Children's Book Committee Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  2. ^ "Utah Center for the Book". Salt Lake City Public Library. 2003. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  3. ^ "Nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award". The Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  4. ^ "Beehive Award Nominees 2004-2005". Children's Literature Association of Utah. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 

External links[edit]