Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review and Interview: I'm a Duck by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

I'm a Duck is a gentle story told in rhyming couplets about a young duckling who must overcome his fear of swimming in a pond.

While still an egg, duckling rolls  out of the mother duck's nest and begins to sink to the bottom of the nearby pond. Saved by his quick acting mother, when the duckling hatches, it is afraid to go into the water: "I cannot swim and that is bad/a landlocked duck is very sad."

Watching his siblings splashing around in the water and having fun, duckling is encouraged by his friends, kind Big Frog, who tell him: "Just slide in fast; don't even think/You're a duck and ducks don't sink" and Wise Owl, who advises him: "You're a duck. Use common sense/and try to get some confidence."

Duckling decides to practice swimming in a puddle and after a day of going round and round, he's finally ready to try swimming in the pond, even though he is still scared. With encouragement from his mother, siblings, Big Frog and Owl, the little duckling takes the plunge and realizes that he really can't drown - he's a duck: "I was wrong to ever think/a well-made duck like me could sink."

This is the perfect book for any child who has to face doing something they are afraid of trying (and isn't that all kids at some point). The message here isn't simply about overcoming fears, but also the fact that overcoming them needs to be done in the person or duck's own way and in their own time. It's a good message for kids who feel pressured by friends or family to go at a faster pace than they are ready for, and it makes this a great read aloud for the whole family. Once again, Eve Bunting is just so spot on with this story.

Will Hillenbrand's appealing soft focus mixed media illustrations really capture the duckling's dilemma and especially his mixed feelings. I've always found Hillenbrand's illustrations so captivating and recently, I was fortunate enough to be able to interview him about his life as an artist, and what makes him tick. And Hillenbrand was kind enough to do a video interview which I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

This book is recommended for readers age 3+
This book was provided to me by the publisher, Candlewick Press

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