It’s never too early to start teaching values, and local journalist and author Allison Entrekin’s new book, The Goose Who Talked to the Wind, accomplishes that with a subtlety children won’t even notice. Targeted at ages 3 to 5, the 32-page illustrated story tells a tale of an unnamed goose who hears a message from the wind, guiding him to go in a different direction from his flock. Although he ignores it at first, something in the voice resonates with him and he off he goes in search of his true purpose. The Goose Who Talked to the Wind is a captivating story of courage with a rhythmic refrain that will have both children and adults thinking about it throughout the day.
An award-winning writer whose work has appeared in USA Today and Travel + Leisure, Entrekin wrote her first book, For the Love of Dogs: An A-Z Primer for Dog Lovers of All Ages, in 2013, but never set out to author a children’s book. As features editor for Atlanta’s sister magazine Southbound, her work takes her around the Southeast. It was on a trip to Pensacola, Florida, when inspiration hit. She shares her story below.
How did you come up with the story?
I was journaling outside by the water, and I saw a flock of geese flying in formation. Suddenly, one of them broke away and started flying in a different direction. I had this burst of creative energy. The entire story flowed from pen to paper, without me thinking or analyzing, adding, or deleting. As I wrote the final words, I got bubbles of excitement—it felt like a story I was meant to tell.
What is the message you’re trying to convey?
Something bigger than us is speaking to us. We don’t have to see it to hear it. We can tune in and follow its guidance, even when others don’t understand.
What about this story do you think appeals to people, young and old?
I truly believe every single person can relate to sensing a quiet voice of love and wisdom. We all know it’s much easier to ignore that voice than to build up the courage to follow it. What if people think we’re crazy? What if we take a risk and fail?
Of course, little kids also seem to love the book’s rhyming refrain and the silly squirrel peeking at them on many pages!
You didn’t set out to write a children’s book. How does it differ from your usual work as a magazine journalist?
I’ve been a journalist for two decades, so that’s my comfort zone. Children’s books are pretty much uncharted territory to me! I must have watched a zillion podcasts and YouTube videos about everything from formatting my book to marketing it on Amazon. It’s an entirely different world and very humbling.
Although you had options from traditional publishers, you chose to self-publish. What did you learn in this process? What challenges did you have to overcome?
Traditional publishers asked for me to add more drama to the book. I decided to self-publish so I wouldn’t have to make any changes I didn’t believe in. What I learned is that self-publishing a children’s book requires a lot of risk—including paying an illustrator and a designer out of pocket! I also had to make a ton of decisions about stuff a traditional publisher would handle, from the book’s size to its page count to its sales price. I definitely made a few blunders along the way—some more expensive than others—but man, did I learn a lot. I have a working note in my phone entitled “Lessons I’ve Learned Publishing This Book.” Let’s just say, it isn’t short.
Why doesn’t Goose have a name?
There are some things I changed about the book after that initial draft I wrote in Florida, like adding a rhyming refrain, but I never changed the fact Goose is just called Goose. It’s simple, and I think simple is usually best.
The book ends in an ambiguous way. What do you envision Goose and his friend doing next?
The ambiguous ending is intentional. When we take the risk to follow unseen guidance, we usually aren’t clear on our final destination—just the next step. We know Goose has found a friend who also hears the wind, and we know they’re heading off on big adventures. I hope they meet even more animals who are on similar journeys. I know in my life, those kinds of companions have given me the courage to keep going when I feel like turning around and playing it safe.
When should we expect a sequel?
I love this question! On many pages of the book, there’s a silly squirrel who won’t climb trees because he’s afraid to fall. On the final page, there’s an illustration of him looking longingly up at the branches. I think he deserves a book of his own so we can see if he ever works up the nerve to snag an acorn before it hits the ground!
Anything else we should know?
In the course of publishing this book, I’ve met so many people who have dreams they’ve not yet gone for, be it starting a business or writing a novel. I hope my personal story and the book’s theme encourage them to follow the wind!