COME ON, BABY DUCK!
With a sprinkling of beguiling Briticisms and pictures that look like stills from vintage animation, British author/artist Ward succeeds in dusting off most of the cobwebs from a familiar story. Baby Duck is ready for his first foray into the water, and he's convinced the experience is going to be "brilliant." But when he reaches the pond, it seems deep and enormous, a light rain "patter[s]" down and, all together, "It's splashy and horrible! I hate it!" When the wind sweeps his beloved teddy bear out of his arms and into the drink, however, Baby Duck plunges in to save him. "Well done!" declares Mrs. Duck, every bit an English mum. Ward lets readers know that Baby Duck's anxieties are ungrounded—filled with cavorting fish, duck and frogs, the pond beckons like an action-packed community swimming pool. But Ward also understands how little steps can feel huge for a child, so he makes the most out of Teddy's rescue: the bear seems caught in a mini whirlpool, the sky turns menacingly grey, and Baby Duck makes a leap worthy of the Olympic diving team. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)