(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Fledgling is a fantasy novel about a Canada goose that teaches Georgie, a little girl, to fly. Her family and several other adults try to prevent Georgie from taking flying lessons. Their idiosyncracies (one plants a garden of plastic roses, one thinks the goose is a giant duck) and their bumbling attempts to stop Georgie make the book alternately funny and sad. The action moves specifically and rapidly, with frequent shifts of attention between characters.

Young readers will see aspects of their own lives reflected in the characters' problems and pleasures of growing up. Georgie, Eddy, and Eleanor experience sibling rivalry, adults not listening to their opinions and wishes, pressures to conform, and homework. Georgie, the youngest, also experiences being able to see, hear, smell, and move better than adults, as well as being able to transform the world into what it might be, not what it is, through imagination, empathy with nature, and play.

Because they are older than Georgie, Eleanor and Eddy have lost some of these abilities, and Georgie apparently begins to lose some of her imaginative powers through the course of the book, although this loss is ambiguous. Langton raises the question of whether the loss of unity and the ability to empathize with and play with nature is inevitable as people grow older. Do children like Georgie intuitively understand the ideas of Henry David Thoreau better than adults, like Uncle Freddy, who...

(The entire section is 483 words.)