cover image Duck & Goose

Duck & Goose

Tad Hills, . . Random/Schwartz & Wade, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83611-4

From different directions, a young duck and a little goose march across a grassy field toward a big spotted sphere. Upon quick inspection, they decide it is an egg, although shrewd readers may point out that it closely resembles a soccer ball. "I saw it first," says the yellow duck. "I touched it first," taunts the white-feathered goose, placing his black foot against it. In separate thought bubbles, each imagines building a fence around the presumed egg, Duck posting a "no honking" sign, Goose with an "absolutely no quacking" placard. "After a flurry of fussing,/ grunting and groaning,/ slipping and sliding," they climb atop their claim and huffily sit back to back. But as time passes, they begin planning their hatchling's future and referring to it as "our baby," at least until a bluebird comes by to ask if she can play with their ball too (then exits to let them resolve their differences). Hills (My Fuzzy Friends ) pictures the cartoonish characters against a sky blue and summer green landscape that provides a theatrical backdrop to the argument. This mini-drama implies that a plaything can be more fun for two and shows how even stubborn characters can cooperate. Hills's feathered heroes enact a dialogue familiar to anyone who has negotiated with siblings or playground rivals. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)