Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

With A Quack And A Honk

With the advent of spring living in a city nestled between the shores of Lake Michigan and Round Lake, a common sight driving down the main street is a mother duck quickly waddling, babies trailing behind her.  In the morning and evening a flock of geese, creating a well-known symphony of sound, fly overhead in their trademark "V" formation.  If there is water there will be ducks and geese voicing their opinions, entertaining us with their daily adventures and habits.

In 2006 Tad Hills, in his first picture book (which earned him several starred reviews and numerous awards), featured two feathered friends in a story, Duck & Goose, as they worked through ownership issues.  There was also the misconception they both held of a spotted ball being an egg.  Duck, Duck, Goose followed in 2007; their friendship tested by the introduction of another duck, Thistle.  To the delight of younger readers a series of board books highlighting the duo, Thistle and Bluebird were published, What's Up Duck?: A Book of OppositesDuck & Goose, 1, 2, 3Duck & Goose, How Are You Feeling?, Duck & Goose, It's Time for Christmas!Duck & Goose, Here Comes the Easter Bunny!, Duck & Goose, Find a Pumpkin, and Duck & Goose, Goose Needs a Hug.

Let the quacking and honking begin!  For the first time in seven years the pals are back in a picture book.  Duck & Goose Go to the Beach (Schwartz & Wade Books) takes the terrific twosome on a new adventure far from their favorite spots, the meadow, the lily pond, the shady thicket and puddles by the river.

"Don't you just love it here, Duck?" Goose honked.
The two friends relaxed in the early morning sun and listened to the hum of the meadow.

Although replying in the affirmative, Duck stands up exclaiming that Goose has given him the best idea.  Goose is totally befuddled by the suggestion.  How can Duck's mind leap from contentment to taking a trip?

Immediately Goose counters with a reason not to go; not once but three times.  Duck sets off walking regardless.  Goose reluctantly tags along behind Duck.

As the pair travel through familiar territory Goose ponders the wisdom of this decision; what they need is right here.  Then Duck and Goose walk by unexplored points, over fields and up and down hills until they stop atop one.  Is what they see the sea?

Duck can't get to the bottom of the hill fast enough.  Goose has had enough of this excursion.  When they are finally standing on the beach gazing at the vastness spread before them, the tide turns...so to quack.

Loud waves, too much water and the hot sand are at the top of Duck's let's-not-stay-here list.  Goose dives in for a swim regardless.  Duck reluctantly wades in behind Goose.  WHOOSH!  Well, that wave was fun...or not.

A meet and greet with the area residents, tide pool explorations, sand sculpture and seashell sensations fill their afternoon.  As the day comes to a close, they rest and reflect.  It's Goose with the big question this time.  His friend Duck has the perfect answer.

As established in his earlier titles Tad Hills has created distinctive personalities for Duck and Goose.  Of the two Goose is more serious and thoughtful.  Duck tends to look at life as a series of surprises, welcoming variety. Their differences create a delightful harmonic blend.  This story, like the others, is told through simple observation statements, thoughts of both Goose and Duck and their friendly banter.  Throughout the entire narrative a hint of humor is evident.
Here is a single sample.

"We could go on an adventure!" Duck said.
"An adventure? That sounds scary," Goose honked.
"Come on, Goose.  A hike might be fun," Duck quacked.
"A hike? said Goose.  "That sounds like a fine way to twist your ankle."

In the initial scene on the dust jacket of Duck and Goose wading in the shallows along the beach, readers are given a hint of the reversal in outlook during the development of this latest escapade.  Variations in texture and hues of sea green and blue, brush strokes like ripples and waves, cover the opening and closing endpapers.  A panoramic view of the pals' little pastoral paradise spans the verso and title page.  They are lying on their backs in the meadow.

 Rendered in oil paint Tad Hills depicts softened scenery rich in color to highlight the facial features and body postures of his feathered friends.  The emotions expressed in their eyes enhance the narrative increasing the reader's desire to grin and giggle especially when they look directly at the reader involving them in the moment.  For the most part the illustrations extend across both pages. At times small oval insets, single page rough-shaped circles or single page, edge to edge, pictures follow the ebb and flow of the tale.  Hills switches perspective for the same purpose.

The hats Duck and Goose are wearing during this book elevate the attraction readers have for this adorable twosome.  One of my favorite illustrations is a single page of Duck and Goose peeking over the sand dune, getting their first glimpse of the sea.  The "Whoa!" look on their faces makes me laugh every single time.

When Tad Hills released Duck and Goose into the world he gave readers one of the most beloved pairs in children's literature.  I am thrilled he decided to continue their friendship in Duck & Goose Go to the Beach.  The care given to ensure the bond between the best buddies in text and pictures sends out a reassuring warmth; Duck standing on Goose's head to put a feather in the top of their drip castle, Goose holding up a shell to Duck's ear or

They both agreed it was nice to be home.

Make sure to share this newest edition with all your readers.  You might want to add the plush Duck and Goose to your collection. (I did.)

Please follow the embedded links above to a biographical sketch of Tad Hills at the publisher's website and to his official blog.  This links to five printable PDF posters for enjoying the beach according to Duck and Goose. There is all kinds of goodness in these pages about having a Duck and Goose party.

I am excited to be participating in the celebration of this new title with John Schumacher at Watch. Connect. Read. and with Colby Sharp at sharpread.  Make sure you visit their blogs today.


  1. Lovely review of a lovely book. Captures the spirit!

    So nice of you to include a mention of the dolls as well. We just tweeted a fun pic of them at the beach. They continue to have a fun time together. :)

    1. Thank you very much, Merry Makers! Children really enjoy holding the dolls when listening to the stories about their favorite characters. The picture you tweeted is adorable. I too look forward to more Duck & Goose stories.