Thursday, June 28, 2012

Duck for a Day

Waddle as fast as you can to your library or bookstore and pick up a copy of Duck for a Day, an engaging early chapter book. McKinlay, an Australian writer, covers well-trod ground--a girl wants to bring home the class pet--but she does so with great finesse and with a delightful twist--the class pet is a duck.

Abby isn't allowed to have pets--they're messy and her mom is a bit of a neat freak. Last year, however, she brought home the class rabbit and this year her mom grudgingly will let her take home Max, the duck Abby's teacher surprises the class with one day. But not just anyone gets Max as a houseguest, only those who can provide the perfect aquatic environment. As Mrs. Melvino, their teacher, says more than once, "A duck is different. A duck has demands." Meeting these demands proves almost impossible for Abby and her classmates. Add to Abby's challenges, Noah, her next door neighbor and chief rival, and you have the perfect ingredients for an engrossing read.

The book is expertly plotted and the characters well-drawn and endearing. When obstacles are put in her path, Abby doesn't whinge or whine, she sets out to overcome them. Noah, in his quest to get the duck, comes into his own, changing from a shy, withdrawn boy to a self-confident one. And Mrs. Melvino is a hoot, a teacher who puts so many roadblocks in the class quest to win Max that careful readers will begin to wonder if she has ulterior motives. Leila Rudge's cartoonish illustrations enhance the text and add many comic touches. A delightful book!

Duck for a Day
by Meg McKinlay
illustrations by Leila Rudge
Candlewick Press, 96 pages
Published: February 2012

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