Meg McKinlay (text), Nathaniel Eckstrom (illus.), Duck!, Walker Books Australia, 1 July 2018, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781925381535
Duck is the smallest animal on the farm, but he still has something important to say. How can he get the others to listen? Duck is the story of a little bird with a ‘never give up’ attitude.
The illustrations are quite soft, with lovely muted, autumnal colours. And for all endpaper enthusiast, this has a really sweet one. The images portray an American style ranch or farm setting for Duck and the other farmyard residents. The big, red barn, the old, ox-drawn, wooden wagon, and the steel windmill give the reader a sense that the location is far from a home among the gum trees. When you come to the last page, the signpost for Kansas gives away the location and pulls together the Wizard of Oz feel you get throughout the book.
The story itself is simple and relies on the wordplay of the dual meaning of the word: duck. The characters are the standard farmyard animals; pig, cow, horse, sheep, and duck, which, when you read aloud their words, allows plenty of opportunity to do some fun voices. Beyond that, you may have the opportunity to discuss with children the importance of speaking up, though they might be small; or the importance of listening to others.
Overall this is a sweet, fun read that would generally suit the 3-5-year-old age range. It would also be good for children still learning to read fluently as there is plenty of repetition of common words and opportunity to learn some more challenging words. Though, for me, sadly, this book seemed to miss that special little something that would make it an instant classic.
Reviewed by Cherie Bell