Kevin Luthardt, Author, Kevin Luthardt, Illustrator . Peachtree $15.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-56145-046-6

In his impressive debut, Mine!, Luthardt proved he could breathe new life into a familiar theme (how hard it is to share) with minimal text and bold, chiaroscurist oils. He calls upon those talents again in this nearly wordless book, in which a boy finds an egg that hatches ("Crraaaack!") into a duckling ("peep!"). Even though the boy offers it a cheery "Bye bye" and then admonishes it to "Stay," the duckling follows him home. His parents' skeptical expressions soon turn to acceptance of the boy's new feathered friend, who quickly becomes a cherished part of the boy's life, even making an appearance at show and tell ("Wow" and "Cool!" remark the other students). Subtle changes in palette indicate the passing of seasons, from the duckling's springtime hatching to the summer soccer season. But in autumn, when the duckling hears a flock of ducks in flight, its "peep" morphs into a more adult "quack!" and the boy and his family bittersweetly set the duck free. While Luthardt's pictures have a tableau-like quality, he invests every scene with a visual and emotional depth that draws in the audience. The duck's gleeful and inexhaustible "peep!" becomes another strong graphic element, functioning as both a visual punchline and a mirror of the boy's affection. After the duckling joins a flock, Luthardt makes room for one more word in the short vocabulary list: the "mew!" belonging to a stray kitten that becomes the boy's new pet. All ages. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/06/2003
Release date: 01/01/2003
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 978-1-56145-682-6
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