Living on or near water you know spring brings the inevitable sight of a string of ducklings following their mother. Sometimes when slowly moving in a canoe, kayak or boat down a river or along a lakeshore, you might find yourself the recipient of a quacking escort. It's a given traffic will be stopped on Main Street as a feathered family waddles across from one side to the other.
With as much care as a parent gives, guarding the newly hatched from predators and hazards in the wild, their instincts can't always prepare them for possible man-made dangers. In the summer of 2000 five ducklings found themselves in serious trouble. Author Eva Moore with pictures by Nancy Carpenter in Lucky Ducklings (Orchard Books) brings to readers a fictionalized retelling of this true story.
The Duck family
lived in a pretty pond in a
green, green park, in a sunlit
little town at the end of a
long, long island.
Pippin, Bippin, Tippin, Dippin and Little Joe with a Whack-a-whack!" are off for a walk with Mama Duck. From their park home they make their way into town. Once there they find some snacks on the ground from the overflowing trash can.
Satisfied Mama Duck is on the move once again. She makes her way easily over the grate next to the curb. Unbeknownst to her with a plop, splish-splash, times five her brood vanishes.
Within seconds the alarm has been sounded by a watching woman and the frantic quacks for help from the babies. Mama Duck races back, chasing onlookers away. Firemen try to pry up the grate with no success.
Remember though, this story is titled the Lucky Ducklings. A man with a truck has a plan. A climb, a bucket and one frustrated but happy Mama Duck add up to another walk, a walk with Pippin, Bippin, Tippin, Dippin and Little Joe all in a row. Off they go.
With the right combination of words, gathered together in several sentences or spread across two or more pages as a single thought, Eva Moore has created a cadence of sorts for the narrative; almost like the leisurely walk of a mother with her baby ducks. Repetition of descriptive words and key phrases provide a welcome invitation to join in the day's adventure. Supplying an interpretation of the Whack! and Quack! of all the ducks as dialogue further engages her intended audience. The finishing touch is the names of the ducklings, rhyming except for Little Joe, named after one of his rescuers in real life.
The charming, warmth of this true rescue story is immediately apparent when looking at the matching jacket and cover; the front leading into the trouble, the back closing with calming normalcy. Using charcoal with digital media illustrator, Nancy Carpenter, chooses to begin telling the story prior to the first written words. On the title page we see Mama Duck resting with her ducklings clustered around among the pond grasses. The verso and dedication pages visualize the peaceful morning, slight ripples on the water as she wades into the pond, her wee ones beginning to follow.
For several of the illustrations Carpenter elects to use only hues of blues and greens with the charcoal drawings. Even though the remaining illustrations are in full color, there is a soft naturalness to the color palette and a texture almost as if chalk was used. Her depiction of the ducks is so realistic you would hardly be surprised to hear a quack. Carpenter's shift in picture size, two page, single page or a series of columns coupled with the change in perspective, a view of the grate as if you are one of the trapped ducklings, adds to the overall feeling of pure satisfaction you get from reading this title.
Although years in the making Lucky Ducklings written by Eva Moore with pictures by Nancy Carpenter was well worth the wait. Whether at bedtime, storytime or any time this is treat. Get ready for the sounds of "read it again".
Be sure to follow the link embedded in Eva Moore's name to an article in The East Hampton Star written about this book titled All Her Ducks in a Row. Publishers Weekly did a Q & A with Nancy Carpenter about this title and her work which is linked to her name. I will be adding this book to my 2014 Mock Caldecott list.