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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ducking for Apples, written by Lynne Berry and illustrated by Hiroe Nakata. Holt, H B Fenn. 2010. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"Five bold ducks
on ten thin wheels
Wobble, bobble,
squeak, and squeal."

I am loving these 'duck' books by Lynne Berry. Young childen love familiar characters and they will remember them each time you read a new story. The expressive text, the lilting rhymes, the common experiences and pitfalls will have little ones talking about similar events and asking for more.

As with anyone learning to ride a bike, there are bound to be some difficulties. As they wobble, they also teeter, swerve, totter and curve. It is a typical outing for five adventure-seekers. After hill climbing and downhill soaring, they are ready for a rest. Where better than under an apple tree? How to get at the apples is cause for concern...but not for long!

The top duck in the five duck stack reaches for the desired treats and starts pitching them one after the other to the ground. He picks more and more and more, until the four ducks under him (standing precariously on a rock) begin to shake. When the tower crumbles, they gather the apples on the ground and fill their baskets. Once home, they cut, mix, press and bake...a special apple treat! Sated and sleepy, the ducks find comfort in front of the fire and drift off to soft slumber.

You will also want to read Duck Tents (Henry Holt, 2009), Duck Dunks (Holt, 2008) and Duck Skates (Holt, 2005). If you are thinking about Christmas gifts for a young reader, why not? Spring camping, summer swimming, autumn apple picking and winter's a seasonal celebration!  Hiroe Nakata has drawn glorious watercolor artwork for each one, full of light and action as the five ducks experience their world in a humorous series of mishaps, mischief, and camaraderie. Together they are and, we can only hope, together they will always be.

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