cover image The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling

Timothy Basil Ering. Candlewick, $15.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6432-9

Ering’s story sails along with Captain Alfred, who’s returning home with a load of ducks, his violin, and a duck egg for his wife tucked in his violin case. A storm swamps the boat, and the fog parts to reveal the just-hatched duckling—which Captain Alfred has preemptively named Alfred Fiddleduckling—drifting alone in the sea with the captain’s violin: “Alfred loved the object! And, by the sound of its beautiful music, the object loved Alfred, too.” Ering (The Almost Fearless Hamilton Squidlegger) teeters between tension and adventure as duckling and violin wash up in a marsh, and a lumpy form approaches them. Miraculously, it’s Captain Alfred’s bulldog; he has recognized the sound of his master’s fiddle. Ering doesn’t fully reunite the family before the book ends, but it’s clear that all will be well. Bold strokes and swaths of bright color telegraph cheer, and Alfred is an intrepid fellow, full of joy and curiosity. The violin is a lovely sidekick—no practicing, no lessons, just generously shared music—and the stream of happy coincidences makes this a joyful yarn. Ages 2–5. (Jan.)