Monday, April 23, 2007

Book Review: Three Good Deeds, by Vivian Vande Velde

Three Good Deeds
By Vivian Vande Velde
Harcourt Books
Copyright 2005
Hardcover, 147 pages, $16.00
Ages 8-12

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

Howard is your typical nice yet sometimes not-so-nice young boy. For one thing, he loves to play pranks, specially on defenceless geese and poor old women who look like witches.

One day he tries to steal goose eggs from an old woman in his town…. with disastrous consequences—this old woman, you see, happens to be a real witch who, to teach him a lesson, turns him into a goose. There’s only one way for Howard to break the witch’s curse and turn back into a boy: he must do three good deeds.

Easier said than done. As Howard tries to think up possible good deeds, he goes into a self-discovering journey without even realizing it, and becomes a much better person for it.

Three Good Deeds is a delight to read. The dialogue is engaging and the visual images transport the reader to the pond with the geese. The devious simplicity of the tale is what makes this book stand out. This is one of those excellent books which can work on two levels: as a light, fun, superficial story, and as a deeper, more complex one with a serious theme. The author doesn’t “spell out” the obvious to the young reader, allowing him/her to find out the reason why Howard’s presumably “good” deeds are not really good deeds at all. The ending is touching and transcends the more common, cute endings in many middle-reader novels published these days; though actually serious in tone, it serves to both contrast and complement the earlier part of the book beautifully.

*This review first appeared on

1 comment:

Darla D said...

I just finished reading this one to my kids, and we all enjoyed it. It made a great read-aloud!