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Three Good Deeds
Vivian Vande Velde
Magic Carpet Books, 147 pages

Vivian Vande Velde
Vivian Vande Velde is the author of Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, A Hidden Magic, The Conjurer Princess, and many other fine fantasy novels. She lives with her husband and daughter in Rochester, New York.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Tales From the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird
SF Site Review: Wizard at Work
SF Site Review: Being Dead
SF Site Review: Magic Can Be Murder
SF Site Review: Never Trust a Dead Man
SF Site Review: The Conjurer Princess
SF Site Review: A Coming Evil

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

Three Good Deeds Three Good Deeds is middle grade fantasy from Vivian Vande Velde, who has done consistently enjoyable work for both middle grade readers and YA readers. It is a very simple book, with an honest and worthwhile moral -- but not a very surprising one. And the plot is not surprising, either, really. So it presents a bit of a problem to the reviewer. I found it enjoyable enough (though I confess I don't feel confident predicting how a "middle grade" reader would react), but slight. There is nothing really new here, but the story is well presented, and, simply, fun. There really isn't much more to say.

Howard is a fairly typical boy in a small village. He is not particularly better or worse than his fellows. One day, for what he thinks is a prank, he steals the eggs of a goose -- one of a flock of goose protected by the local "witch." The "witch," it turns out, is a real witch, and she responds by turning Howard into a goose. He won't become a boy again until he performs three good deeds. And the rest of the story is a depiction of Howard's life as a goose, made more difficult by his lack of knowledge of goose life, and by the suspicion felt by the real geese. To say nothing of the danger posed by the humans in the village, who certainly don't recognize Howard in his goose form. He also tries to do good deeds, but comes to a stumbling realization that real good deeds, that come from the heart, are not necessarily that easy.

I particularly liked the depictions of the other geese: their naming habits, their suspicions of Howard, their different characters. The story itself is short and pleasant. The moral perhaps a bit too pointed, but true enough. On the whole, nothing great, but decent work.

Copyright © 2008 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at

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