cover image Duck for a Day

Duck for a Day

Meg McKinlay, illus. by Leila Rudge. Candlewick, $12.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5784-0

Offering a droll, understated narrative and angular pencil illustrations, well-matched collaborators McKinlay and Rudge make the most of an auspicious premise. Abby and her classmates are delighted when Mrs. Melvino, their daffy new teacher, introduces Max the duck, making it clear that he is no ordinary class pet: "A duck is different. A duck has demands." Since Abby's parents have said no to a dog "every single birthday and every single Christmas," but have agreed to hosting a class pet overnight, she is determined to prove to her teacher that she can meet Max's requirements. So is her neighbor, likable and disheveled Noah. The two engage in a good-natured rivalry to create a proper "aquatic environment" for Max in their backyards. The independent-minded duck is a scene-stealer; in one episode, he uses his "clever beak" to make a mess of the craft cupboard, signaling to Mrs. Melvino that it's craft time ("Thank you, Max!...What an excellent idea"). Underlying the story's lightheartedness is a neatly delivered lesson about responsibility and cooperation. Ages 7%E2%80%939. (Feb.)