cover image Mama’s Little Duckling

Mama’s Little Duckling

Marjorie Parker, , illus. by Mike Wohnoutka. . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47950-5

Mama Quack isn’t crazy about her adorable Dandelion Duckling’s desire to explore his world: “There is danger in the water, danger in the air, danger on the shore, danger everywhere!” writes Parker (Your Kind of Mommy ). So like any good parent, she lets him taste independence in small doses, always hovering nearby in case he needs to escape a predator. But when Mama gets distracted by some tasty centipedes, it’s Dandelion’s chance to sound the alarm. Wohnoutka’s (Davey’s Blue-Eyed Frog ) saturated, pastel-like paintings immediately draw in the audience—his full-bleed compositions, feel for action and exuberant characterizations bring to mind the golden age of animation. Better still, he situates readers exactly at the center of the action: for example, in some scenes he sets the surface of the pond as a sight line, forcing viewers along with Dandelion to look up to the mother duck; in another scene, he shows the pond almost as if it were an aquarium, with Dandelion’s submerged head fully visible as he blows bubbles underwater, his tail feathers bobbing, blithely oblivious to the hawk swooping toward him. Wohnoutka’s art invites readers into the protagonist’s role, where they can absorb his growing competence. Ages 3-up. (Feb.)