‘I have never particularly wanted to draw geese (though they’re quite interesting when you do), but the story was handed to me on a plate and I didn’t feel I could waste it.’
Judith Kerr spent much of her career drawing cats of one shape or another. She writes in her biography Creatures about her special affinity with them, and used successive pets as models for her books about Mog and friends. As with Mog, she didn’t have to look far for inspiration when making her two books about geese.
‘We have a duck pond where I live, and for a while four or five white geese lived on it, but they gradually died or moved away, until there was just one left. ‘The first thing I noticed about him was that he used to stand with his beak right up against any shiny car parked near by and stare and stare at his reflection. He clearly thought it was another goose, and, having lost his brothers and sisters, was lonely.’
This goose became Katerina, and Kerr imagined what might happen in winter when the snow falls and she can no longer see her reflection in the car. In a leap of logic that will be familiar to Mog fans, she assumes that the other goose has left the car. So she goes in search of her friend but encounters something terrible.
So Katerina gives chase all over town.
The chase eventually reaches the square, where the mayor is turning on the Christmas lights, and Katerina finally gets her man. But there is no other goose to be found in his bag.
Like Mog before her, this accidental hero has foiled a robbery and saved Christmas. There are no boiled eggs as a reward for Katerina, instead she is paraded on a cushioned pushchair by her grateful new friends, as a familiar looking cat looks on.