The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers by Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener

The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers

Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener, Authors

Mikki Butterley, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Feb. 4, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Geese, Migration, Serious illness, Death, Family, Love, Courage

Opening: “From the moment his eggshell cracked, and his bill first peeked out, everyone knew Gerbert was a special goose.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Gerbert is strong and brave young goose and has fun times with his family and friends, but he knows that one day soon, he won’t be able to keep up with them anymore.

No matter how much Gerbert eats, he barely gains weight. His neck is shorter, his bill smaller and his wings are shorter.  His family migrates every year, and each season he grows weaker. His feathers begin to fall out.

As Gerbert prepares for his final migration, his family rallies around him to make sure his days are filled with love and comfort, and he finds a way to show his flock that he will always be with them.

Why I like this book:

Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener have written a tender and sensitive story for children who have a serious illness, for children who have a sibling or other family members who are living with an illness. It is a comforting story about courage and love that can be used in many different situations, even if the family member isn’t facing death. It will also help parents talk about death in a gentle way.

Gerbert is a joyful, loving and courageous gosling. He splashes in the water and plays follow the leader with his siblings. No matter how small Gerbert is, he is determined to have fun.  With each season, he struggles to keep up when his family migrates. Finally, he begins to tire and spend more time in the nest. His family worries about the upcoming migration and know he may not make the journey. Gerbert worries his family will feel sad to leave him behind and will miss him.

Mikki Butterly’s delicate and beautiful illustrations of Canadian geese and their habitat, will evoke emotions. But they are also soothing and comforting.

Meaghann Weaver, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a pediatric oncologist and Chief of the Division of Palliative Care at the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. She works with a wonderful interdisciplinary Hand in Hand team which strives to foster the strengths and graces of children and families in the Heartland. Dr. Weaver’s favorite life moments are spent painting, dancing, cooking, and gardening with her amazing daughter, Bravery. Dr. Weaver dreams of one day returning to Africa with her family.

Lori Wiener, PhD, DCSW, is co-director of the Behavioral Science Core and Head of the Psychosocial Support and Research Program at the pediatric oncology branch of the National Cancer Institute. As both a clinician and behavioral scientist, Dr. Wiener has dedicated her career to applying what she has learned from her work with seriously ill children and their families to create new therapeutic, communication, and educational tools. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her family and several animals, including a pup named Tessa, a rescue cat named Tupelo, and a pond filled with goldfish, koi and noisy frogs. One of Dr. Wiener’s favorite pastimes is photographing the migration of snow geese.

Resources: There is no easy way to approach the discussion about a seriously ill child. But the authors have written a Note to Parents and Caregivers with sample discussion questions and a Kid’s Reading Guide for siblings who have a brother or sister with a serious illness. But, reading The Gift of Gerbert’s Feather is an important start. It is also a perfect book for hospital settings.  There is also a printable feather coloring sheet.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

15 thoughts on “The Gift of Gerbert’s Feathers by Meaghann Weaver and Lori Wiener

  1. The authors certainly have the experience and background in medicine to write this important story. I’ll keep it in mind for any family dealing with a serious illness. Thanks for featuring the book today.


    • Yes, they do and it is much needed. I remember when a co-workers 8-year-old son was losing his battle to cancer, how she encouraged Ryan to talk about his worries openly, which many families at that time didn’t do. Ryan asked to celebrate Christmas in July, so that he could give everyone gifts because he knew the end was coming, much like the gift of feathers that Gerbert gives his family. It was such a special day. This book would have been helpful for Ryan. But, this book can be used in many ways.


  2. Thanks for featuring this book, Patricia. I do have a question. It feels like there’s a paradox here. This book deals with being left behind, or dying. And it seems like this would be appropriate for a child with a terminal illness. But no one wants to lose hope that a child will recover, despite the odds. And reading this book with a child would feel like one has lost hope, that the illness will win. So I’m wondering if parents would be resistant to reading this with their child. Do the authors address this in their notes?


    • I appreciate your comment and understand your concern about not giving up hope. It doesn’t feel like a paradox to me, because I read the author’s notes, which I gave a link to. Others may feel like you do. And parents are encouraged to read the book first before sharing it with their child or family. The authors suggests reading a few pages at a time and discussing them. Let the child lead with questions and concerns. I know that kids who are very ill want parents to be open with them. Many want to talk and share their worries. This book is gentle, and so beautifully written. Perhaps the book is in your library and you take take a peek. But, I’m glad you shared your concern.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My dad was a wildlife biologist who worked on the Aleutian Cackling Goose’s recovery team, a subspecies of the Canada Goose. It was threatened at one time, but its numbers are plentiful now. The cover of this book reminded me of him.


    • That’s fascinating! I worked for the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources in the late 70s and visited Magee Marsh up near Lake Erie. I wrote stories about the Canadian Geese that were nearly extinct in Ohio, but the state worked on habitat and brought them back to the state. Now we are over run with geese. They used to have a radar tracking system when they made their return north in the spring. I was fascinated by them.


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