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Friday, February 21, 2014

Duck to the Rescue, written and illustrated by John Himmelman. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2014. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"On Wednesday,
the chickens needed
a break from watching
their chicks.

Duck to the rescue!

"Cluck, cluck, cluck,"
said the chickens."

First, it was the pigs! Then, the chickens and cows! Now, it's the goat! The Greenstalks who own this farm must be some kind and loving family. Otherwise, why would their many animals involve themselves in solving every problem that arises? While help is always needed, the animals' ways of dealing with the difficulties are not always popular and sensible.

Fans of John Himmelman's other farm books will have a real sense of what's coming in this addition to the funny and engaging series of escapades. Each day of the week brings some new concern to  members of the Greenstalk family, both human and animal. Since the duck has not yet taken his turn in helping out, the solutions now fall to him.

It's slapstick comedy that will have little ones eager to see what Ernie has up his sleeve. If, like each of the other books, the sight gags make them chortle, they are sure to want to hear it again. No matter what crops up, Ernie wants to help. His manner of helping most assuredly adds delight and even more difficulties to an otherwise peaceful farm life.

In taking the harvested pumpkins to market, he crashes the truck. In trying to rescue a calf from a very high perch, Ernie succumbs to vertigo and must be rescued himself. He is a neverending trial to those who need his help. When Sunday rolls around, he is finally able to solve a bogus problem, which boosts his wilted self-esteem, and perhaps manages to give us a clue to the 'helper' for the next book!

John Himmelman's watercolor images give the fairly straightforward text vivid and frenetic life. Readers will pore over the wry humor of the situations that Ernie creates for himself and others.  It will be no time until young readers are reading it to themselves and to anyone who might listen. Great books to the rescue!

Chaotic and full of fun, this is a book that would make a lively addition to any story time.

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