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Monday, May 20, 2013

Lucky Ducklings, written by Eva Moore and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Orchard Books, Scholastic. 2013. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"Mama Duck went first.
Right behind came Pippin,
and last of all...
Little Joe.
Oh dear!
That could have been the end..."

Kids will love that this wonderful new book is the result of something that really happened. The six ducks live in a pond on an island. One day, Mama decides to take them to town. What happens after that is their story!

Who wouldn't take note if they saw a mama duck and her five ducklings out for a walk together. Luckily, many people see them. As they waddle along behind their mother, the little ones have no idea they are headed straight for danger. As they pass over the grate for a storm drain, each one tumbles out of sight. It might have been the end of them all.

But, someone notices and calls for emergency help. The fire department is deployed to take action. 
Everyone in the community wants a happy ending and they work tirelessly to ensure that those babies are soon reunited with their frantic mother. The telling is rhythmic and charming, while also being gentle and reassuring. I love the way Eva Moore brings their story to life.

With varying perspectives Nancy Carpenter makes the rescue real and full of feeling. We see the concern on the onlookers' faces as they look through the grate to see the tiny ducklings below, and then watch the fireman as he climbs down and down the ladder to the storm drain and those in need of rescuing.  Concern is the order of the day. She also entertains with images of Little Joe (already set apart by his name), his curiosity and constant lagging. They make him even more lovable.

 The artist ensures mood changes with use of color; she opts for warm yellows and greens when we first meet the family and adds darker tones when danger rears its ugly head. Then, be sure to bask in the beauty of the final soothing image reiterating the notion that all's well that ends well.

With the return of ducks to warmer climes, and a closer look at pond life, you can add Lucky Ducks to other memorable stories such as Make Way for Ducklings (McCloskey, 1941) and The Story About Ping (Flack, 1933). Oh, and don't miss Mo Willems' Duckling books! Or Odd Duck (Castellucci, 2013)! Or Gossie and Friends (Dunrea, 2001)! That could have been the end....

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