In this beautifully written short story a lonely hunchback, Philip, cares for the wild birds that visit him at his lighthouse home. One day a young girl comes to the him with an injured Canadian snow goose. Over the years the girl continues to visit the hunchback and together they care for the goose and the other birds. Then war arrived on their shores. Only after Philip leaves to try to save the brave solders trapped on the shores of Dunkirk, does the girl, now a young woman, realize how much she loves him.
Some brought this book to my attention because it had be put in the adult fiction section, but hadn't been checking out. I read it to decide whether to move it into the children's department or just to discard it. Gallico's writing is lyrical, and Barrett's illustrations are hauntingly lovely. It is very much a sweet and sad "Beauty and the Beast" story without any fantasy element and set in a chilling period of history. It would be a shame to discard the book, but I am not sure who would check it out. An older librarian friend of mine said that it got quite a lot of critical attention when it first came out. I'll have to try and recommend it to a few people and see what they think. (46 p.)