The picture book, well done with a well told story; simple in form and content, is becoming rather hard to come by. We seem to live in a world of special effects (I of course blame Television and computer games, for lack of a better explanation and seeing as how I despise both, but hey, I am old and becoming more set in my ways and tastes), and the true picture book where the author and artist have actually tried to tell a good story through their two art forms are becoming scares. We are quite in luck that a handful of publishing companies, Star Bright Books, in this case, are reprinting many of the old favorite quality works. This is one of them.
This is the story of a little Wood Duck, hatched by his mom in an old tree beside a lake. Now for those of you that know Wood Ducks (one of our more spectacular species), know these delightful little ducks are absolutely expert swimmers even at a very young age. But ever so often something goes wrong. In this case one of the ducklings happens to be born with one webbed foot smaller and shorter than the other. The results are that he can only swim in circles. While our little duck's brothers and sisters follow along behind their mother, as ducks will, he, the youngest, is doomed to swim in complete circles. This is not a desirable trait for a young Wood Duck!
Many of the other animals living in the forest, along with his family members, gather to make fun of him and tease him, "silly little duck" they cry. This of course hurts our little guy greatly. It makes him sadder and sadder. One day a wise old Owl flies down to see what all the fuss is about. After sizing up the situation the wise old owl tells the little duck that there is nothing wrong with swimming in circles and to just take no notice of those other silly animals. The owl then scolds the entire crew that is gathered.
About this time a hungry fox shows up and spies the ducklings and decides they would make a very fine meal! All the little ducks, including mom try to hide and all tremble in fear. Not our little circling duck though, good grief no, he just does his thing, around and around and around. Needless to say, the fox soon becomes dizzy, then sick and then sort of passes out. The little duck has saved his family, never to be teased again as the fox of course; once he regains his equilibrium and feet, has had enough and never ever comes back again.
This is a sweet little story, well told in a delightful way, but that is only part of the charm of this book. The author has used a stylized technique, with dark but startling colors; a complete swirl which is quite eye catching. Each time you view one of his illustrations, you note more and more. Birds, insects, bears, small critters, large critters, ducks, leaves, plants; all sorts of life abound in each plate. While the artist has taken great liberty with his colors of all these living creatures, there is no doubt in the readers mind what they are and they are pure candy for the eye; healthy candy, I might add. One plate along I counted 40 different birds and animals...took another look and came up with 46. My eyes are getting old and there is no doubt I missed a few. Makes you wonder what younger eyes can come up with!
This is a great read along book, is wonderful for either a group read or a one on one. As with most of the children's books I review, this one has been "kid tested" by me, and they all absolutely love it. I get many requests for second and even third readings. I like this one as there is plenty of material offered that I can make up new stories about the pictures each time I read the book. It also teaches us all a good lesson as to accepting others as how they are and that just because they are different, does not automatically make the tease bait. This is a lesson all children should learn, and I might add quite a number of adults too.
Add this one to your child's library or at the very least, search it out at the library. I can almost promise you that both you and your child will be thrilled and delighted.
Cat on the Mat
The North Wind and the Sun
My Little Book of Wood Ducks (My Little Book Series)