Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

From its opening scene, The Fledgling conveys a sense of the cycles of life. An old goose on his last migration through Concord, Massachusetts, spots in Walden Pond a special present that he will pass on to the novel’s protagonist, who will find both wonder and comfort in this gift. Georgie first appears in the novel trying once again, under the gaze of a bust of Henry David Thoreau, painfully, unsuccessfully, to fly down the dark front hall steps. Eleanor and Eddy rush in to gather up their undersized, crazy cousin, whom they fear will never turn out normal. Georgie’s mother worries about Georgie as well, but she allows her daughter her own choices: a beloved corncob doll, a favorite pair of red overalls, and, most important, the realization of a dream, leaving nightly to fly with the Goose Prince.

In a reversed hunting scene that illustrates the varying third-person point of view in the text, Georgie’s red overalls catch the eye of the old goose as he flies overhead, looking for someone to whom he might give his present. When the goose first approaches Georgie, he is frightened away by interfering Ralph Preek, who will become obsessed, Ahab-like, with hunting down the animal. Georgie has understood what Mr. Preek has not: that the Goose Prince is trying to be her friend and that he wants to teach her to fly. Mr. Preek resolves to destroy the “large duck” that he believes holds Georgie in its power, and, in one of the many instances of...

(The entire section is 545 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Georgie encounters the Goose Prince in Concord, Massachusetts, and nearby Walden Pond during the latter part of the twentieth century. For...

(The entire section is 398 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Fledgling is a commentary on the American transcendentalists, a fantasy, and an animal story. By mixing these traditions with...

(The entire section is 451 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

No reasonable person should be offended by The Fledgling. People have argued that the book is against hunting, but they fail to see...

(The entire section is 106 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. In chapter three, Georgie remembers how she flew, how she "jumped down the stairs in two great floating bounds. Unless it was only a...

(The entire section is 752 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Madeline Prawn records her "inspirational thoughts" in a notebook, and Thoreau regularly wrote in his journals. Do the other characters...

(The entire section is 355 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Eleanor and Eddy appear as the main characters in three novels Langton wrote before The Fledgling: The Diamond in the Window (1962),...

(The entire section is 175 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Booklist (May 15, 1980): 1365, 1366. This review of The Fledgling is an excellent introduction to the novel.


(The entire section is 103 words.)