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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Little Chicken Duck, written by Tim Beiser and illustrated by Bill Slavin. Tundra, 2013. 19.99 ages 4 and up

"Don't just stand there,
where it's sandy. Jump
on in! The water's dandy!"
Said our frog, but Ducky
only shook her head.
Ducky's mother never taught her
how to paddle in the water.
"I don't want to! I'm afraid to
swim!" she said."

Poor Little Chicken Duck...she has a fear, just as so many of us do. Frog tries to convince her to give the water a try, but she is scared and doesn't understand Frog's love for the cool of the pool. He's persuasive, but she is adamant she won't go in.

Off they go into the forest, with a reassurance from Frog that others of her species also fear what they do not know. When they meet Owl they learn that, despite the fact that owls are nocturnal, his fear was the dark:

"Every night, I started screaming
when the goblins' eyes were gleaming -
Till I learned that they were only fireflies.
Since they light my way so brightly,
I enjoy their friendship nightly
As I bravely fly through moon-and-starlit skies."

The lark has something to say about not fearing the dark, but what about singing? The robin, cuckoo, some quails, and even the American eagle voice their own fears and how they faced them. It's enough to give the little duckling the courage to go right back to the pond with Frog and see what happens.

Kids are sure to get a kick from the surprise ending!

This is a book that will generate discussion about those things we fear and what we must do to deal with each one. It will be most interesting to hear what children have to say and to listen to ways in which they encourage their friends. Bill Slavin, once again, creates soft-edged acrylic artwork that has great appeal for those who love varying perspectives, vulnerable and lovable characters, and lively action. It's sure to be a hit!


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