cover image On Duck Pond

On Duck Pond

Jane Yolen, illus. by Bob Marstall. Cornell Lab, $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-943645-22-0

The team behind On Bird Hill returns with an intimate reflection on a small Massachusetts pond, where a placid scene can change at a moment’s notice. While On Bird Hill had a certain dreamlike quality, particularly in Marstall’s slightly surreal artwork, this story feels grounded in careful, quiet observation. Yolen writes in first-person rhymes (the narrator is eventually revealed to be a boy walking his dog), bearing contemplative witness to the disruptions caused by a “quack of ducks” that descends on the pond: “A frog leaped off his lily pad./ Quite surprised and very mad./ A heron flew back to her nest./ Tadpole hid—which they do best.” A sunlit glow seems to infuse Marstall’s landscapes, and he’s carefully attentive to the physical details of the birds, frogs, and other creatures the boy notices. Informative endnotes invite readers to locate eight animals hidden in the preceding pages, offer additional information about a host of birds and other creatures, and encourage children to learn more about ponds and birds. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator’s agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Apr.)