Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan

by Cynthia Rylant (2015)

The Gooseberry Gang is back – and they’re stronger in number, spirit, and love.

The beloved hermit crab, Gwendolyn, and the loyal Labrador, Kona, strive to save the Gooseberry Park residents from a devastating drought.  This effort requires the cooperation and kindness of an entire menagerie of animals, each of whom demonstrates strengths and gifts which contribute to The Master Plan.  Coming together to accept and appreciate what each animal has to offer is the only way to conquer the drought.  Their love and determination unite the animals who rise to the occasion, no matter the obstacle.  Their will finds a way.

Stumpy the squirrel teaches her young squirrels (and young readers) the importance of love and action.  Stumpy explains, “Love is not just what you say.  It’s what you do.”  What human has ever said it better?

Cynthia Rylant’s love of nature and animals permeates each page as she tells this sweet story of nature, friends, and family, ultimately connecting them through love.  Her touching story is filled with humor and tenderness, often on the very same page – what an accurate representation of real life.  Rylant reveals, “There is perhaps nothing so sweet in this life as to be in need, to hope for help, and to have help arrive.  And so it was that remarkable night in Gooseberry Park.”  Readers, too, will learn to love and help and serve.

The Master Plan includes firemen, hundreds of owls, and 20 packs of chewing gum – and animal role models that teach us how to really care for one another.  May we all end our days worthy of Stumpy the Squirrel’s affirming words, “And tonight, my good children, you loved.”