The life of a Canada goose named Karl is being immortalized in the pages of a new children’s picture book written by a banker from New Jersey.
So how did this unlikely pairing come together? In August 2022, Karl was brought to the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Kingsville, Ont., by a family who had raised him for the first few months of his life. While at the sanctuary, Karl endeared himself to staff and visitors, frequently walking alongside workers, joining staff meetings, and responding when his name was called.
In a social media post from the sanctuary they say, “Due to the fact that he imprinted on our staff, he was a huge hit,” the sanctuary wrote in an Instagram post a few weeks ago. “His favourite place to sit was right on your feet.”
Karl left the sanctuary this past November, but not before making a lasting impression on the staff there. So, when Brett Moyer—a banker and the author of several children’s books about various animals—contacted the sanctuary last spring about selling his book, Meet George and Gertrude Goose, about two geese that had lived near Moyer’s apartment, the sanctuary instead countered with a commission to write a book about their own feathered friend, Karl.
We spoke to Moyer about how Meet Karl from Jack Miner came to be, why he wrote the book, and about his love of Canada geese.
How did you come to know about Karl and his story?
I didn’t know about Karl until this time last year. My wife and I had two Canada geese living by the river near our apartment, and we decided to name them George and Gertrude. Then, about 18 months ago, a different goose was hit by a bike and it unfortunately passed.
I thought this was the perfect opportunity to teach people about geese because there were so many people that asked why the goose didn’t fly out of the way. We explained that the goose was a juvenile, so it couldn’t fly yet, and it had a lack of feathers because it was molting. I decided I would write a book called Meet George and Gertrude Goose. I thought a book would be a great way to introduce kids, but also adults, to these basic facts about Canadian geese.
It kind of took off, I was really in shock. I reached out to the Jack Miner Sanctuary last January to see if the book would interest them, and they said, “We love your book, how about we have our own book?” They told me about Karl, and I thought, I love this idea.
I wrote the story in the first quarter of 2023, and we had the book illustrated by a junior art student from my alma mater, Susquehanna College in Selinsgrove, Pa. Her pen name is Malachi Carter.
Can you talk a bit about the book and what it entails?
We don’t know for sure why Karl was abandoned, but in the book, Karl hatches alone before being found by passersby who take him to the Jack Miner sanctuary. Initially, he’s a little overwhelmed, but then he sees all these adult geese that nurture and train the young goslings there. At the end, Karl is able to take to the skies and join his new family, which include some of the resident geese at the sanctuary.
What we’re trying to teach is that, in life, we all go through periods where we feel a little lost.
You clearly love geese. Is this a lifelong fascination?
I’m from the country originally, so I’ve seen Canadian geese all my life. It wasn’t until my wife came here from the Philippines, where they don’t have geese, and fell in love with these goslings by our apartment, that I said, “Wow, they really are a beautiful part of nature.”
The other thing we enjoy is volunteering with the Wild Bird Fund here. Birds are incredibly smart. That was one of the things we were fascinated by. Our resident goose, Gertrude, learned her name and would recognize and fly over to our pet Corgi whenever she saw him. Karl would absolutely recognize people too if he returned to the sanctuary.
What we like about geese is that, if they find people who are kind to them, they will be kind back. Unfortunately, geese can get a bad rap for hissing or chasing people, but it’s often because they feel threatened. But if you treat them with kindness and affection, they will treat you the same in return.
Can we look forward to a Meet Karl sequel?
Absolutely. A sequel is in the works.
Since Karl has left the sanctuary, everyone is wondering what he is up to. We want to speak to his new life and what lessons he can teach us. In particular, we want to talk about the importance of keeping family around you, protecting one another, and keeping a positive attitude towards people. We think these are really beneficial lessons for children.
We also want to continue teaching people about respecting their environment.
Meet Karl from Jack Miner will be available at the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary and on Amazon starting March 19th.
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