cover image I’m a Duck

I’m a Duck

Eve Bunting, illus. by Will Hillenbrand. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8032-9

As an egg, the narrator of this charming story from Bunting (Thunder Horse) and Hillenbrand (Share, Big Bear, Share!) was rescued by its mother after rolling into a pond; now, the duckling is afraid of the water. From shore, it gloomily watches its brothers paddle by: “I cannot swim, and that is bad,/ A landlocked duck is very sad.” Encouraged by a bullfrog (“Just slide in fast; don’t even think./ You’re a duck, and ducks don’t sink”), the duckling practices in a puddle before mustering the courage to dive in. As family and friends cheer, the elated duck concludes that “I was wrong to ever think/ a well-made duck like me could sink.” Bunting’s singsong rhymes don’t skip a beat as the duck’s trepidation turns into triumph. Hillenbrand is just as successful at capturing the duck’s growing confidence, setting the action in a gauzy, dappled wetland whose soft colors and cast of supportive animals contribute to an atmosphere of security. It’s an endearing allegorical tale whose messages about practice and taking things at one’s own speed will buoy the spirits of children facing new challenges. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)