CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 32. . . .April 24, 2015
The Duck Says, by Troy Wilson, is an entertaining parody of an animal sounds book that works seamlessly with Mike Boldt’s bright comic illustrations to create a humourous story with a surprising level of depth.
The book begins conventionally with “The duck says ‘Quack’” on the first page but quickly departs from the traditional baby book format. The story is built around the various sounds and words said by the anthropomorphic duck as he is chased around a barnyard by a swarm of bees. Unbeknownst to the duck, the bees are upset because he knocked down their beehive while pretending to be a pirate. Classic examples of slapstick humour are woven throughout the story, including, for instance, “The duck says ‘Ouch!’ when he steps on a rake.”
The duck’s words are always in speech bubbles, and the text makes good use of patterns. Each double page spread has two rhyming sentences that start with “The duck says.” This is only altered for the climax when there is a masterful use of images and a shift in the text pattern to build emphasis as the bees communicate their wishes. This use of patterns in the design and text adds to the book’s appeal for classroom use because students can be prompted to figure out what the duck might say in other scenarios.
The sparse text combines beautifully with the illustrations to convey the plot and develop the clownish character of the self absorbed duck. The design of the book reinforces the movement of the adventure as the bees typically chase from left to right and seem to follow the duck and propel the story forward as the reader turns the page. Finally, the bees sneak up from the right side and arrange themselves into shapes to communicate to the duck that they would like him to fix their hive.
The Duck Says is a great storytime read-aloud, and young readers will appreciate the clever twist on the traditional style.
Beth Wilcox is a graduate from the MA in Children’s Literature program at the University of British Columbia and is a teacher librarian in Prince George, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.