cover image LITTLE QUACK


Lauren Thompson, , illus. by Derek Anderson. . S&S, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84723-3

Debut artist Anderson's portrait of a quintet of plucky ducklings and their enticing pond habitat make this familiar tale memorable. Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, Puddle and Little Quack are perfectly content to remain in the nest and view the pond from afar. But Mama Duck will not give up until they take their first swim. "Come little ducklings," she says. "Paddle on the water with me." Anderson paints the pond surface as a velvety quiltwork of violets and shimmery sky blues. A clunky "Quack-U-Lator"—a purple box that runs along the bottom of every spread—keeps track of the ducks entering the water (e.g., when Widdle and Waddle are swimming, the Quack-U-Lator shows two duck icons on the left, joined by the plus sign, and the numeral 2 follows an equals sign; opposite, in capital letters, reads, "Two ducklings in the pond"). With a judicious use of repetition and an ear for both Mama's mellifluous pleadings and the squawkings of her recalcitrant crew, Thompson's (Mouse's First Christmas) text trips off the tongue. But it's Anderson's depiction of the adorable ducklings, working up their courage to join their fuzzy siblings ("You can do it,... I know you can," cheers Mama) that will keep toddlers coming back. The cocky look of the ducklings already floating, and the expression of lone Little Quack as he tentatively dips a tip of his webbed foot in the water, will make this a nursery favorite. Ages 2-6. (Feb.)