Cold Little Duck, Duck, Duck

Lisa Westberg Peters, illus. Sam Williams, Greenwillow, 2000.
32 pages, ages 4-8. ISBN: 0688161782

What’s a cold little duck to do when she races the spring thaw to her home pond and wins? She could shiver, slip, slide, and shake, or think lovely, warm thoughts until nature comes through and brings the pond splashing and quacking to life once again. Lisa Westberg Peters and Sam Williams are inspired harbingers of spring in this irresistible story that’s also an unrivaled read-aloud featuring enchanting rhyme and repetition and absolutely winsome illustrations of the cold (but brave!) little duck.

Read the reviews:

The Horn Book, July/Aug 2000, starred review

When a duck returns to her frozen pond too early in the season, a friendly bear tells her to go “back back back.” But this forward-thinking little duck, her feet stuck to the ice, thinks, thinks, thinks—of spring, of “wiggly worms and shiny beetles,” of pink flowers and “squishy mud.” And before she knows it, her warm thoughts are filling the sky, welcoming other ducks, and spreading springtime all over. Peters’s poetic text is displayed in a large-sized, heavy, black typeface, which invites letter and word recognition and demands as much listener attention as the cheerful story and illustrations. Contrasting with the bold type of the main text are the colorful and playful typefaces used for the three-word rhythmic refrains that follow the text on each page or double-page spread (e.g., “flock flock flock” is set to mirror an illustration of a V of ducks overhead). Subsequent readings will encourage enthusiastic participation as the repeated words become more familiar. The text is well served by Williams’s expressive pencil and watercolor paintings. Quick, deftly sketched lines and subtle shadings of springtime colors suggest the emergent landscape and shifting mood. Williams’s little duck, while true to her waterfowl nature, is full of character and toddlerlike exuberance. Story, art, and design work together well, and there’s plenty here to engage duck-loving preschoolers preparing to dive into words and reading.

Copyright © 2000 The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publisher’s Weekly, March 20, 2000, starred review

In this visually sumptuous testimony to patience and the power of positive thinking, a brown duckling arrives back at her pond a bit too early for spring. Her feet stick to the frozen water—”stuck stuck stuck”—the brisk air makes her “shake shake shake.” But when she concentrates hard on all the wonderful things that warm weather will bring—”crocuses and apple-buds/And blades of grass in squishy mud”—a flock of ducks appears in the sky, with spring right on their webbed heels. With tightly composed vignettes and watercolor spreads, British artist Williams depicts a landscape on the verge of transformation. In the opening pages, his purple skies and expanses of white convey both the physical and spiritual chill of winter; when spring blossoms forth, the pages pulse with heartwarming blues, yellows and greens. Peters’s (October Smiled Back) rhythmic text set in huge, elegant type and punctuated on each page by the graphic treatment of a single-syllable evocative verb, acts as just the right introduction to the change of seasons. For example, a spread featuring the text “The ducks flew down, they dipped and splashed” also shows the words “dunk dunk dunk” bobbing in the water, circling a duck with its backside protruding from the pond. All told, a wonderful answer to the perennial question: “Will spring ever get here?”

Ages 4-up.

Copyright © 2000, Publisher’s Weekly

Kirkus Reviews, 4/1/00, starred review

A little duck learns the power of positive thinking in this salute to spring. Returning to her pond, the world’s cutest duck discovers that winter has not yet relinquished its frigid hold on the area. With her little feet stuck to the ice, the frosty fowl endeavors to hasten the arrival of spring by thinking warm thoughts. As if awakened by the sheer willpower of the duck, spring arrives, bringing balmy breezes to melt the icy pond as well as a flock of her feathered friends. Peters’s (October Smiled Back, 1997) verses sing a duck’s ode to vernal season: “Of crocuses and apple buds/ And blades of grass in squishy mud.” The sprightly, rhyming verses are featured in oversized black lettering. Cleverly incorporated into the illustrations is a subtext highlighting the action of each page: “Of wiggly worms and shiny beetles—black, black, black. And blades of grass in squishy mud—snack, snack, snack.” Children will readily join in on these lively chants, making this a rollicking read-aloud experience. Williams’s soft watercolors fill the pages, capturing the splendor of spring, impossibly fluffy little ducklings frolicking about, azure skies, and fresh green fields. A charming tale on its own, this is also a great way to introduce the wonder of the changing seasons to children. Sweet, sweet, sweet. (Picture book, 3-6)

Copyright © 2000, Kirkus Reviews

Comments are closed.