CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 6. . . .November 7, 2008
Ducks Don't Wear Socks.
John Nedwidek. Illustrated by Lee White.
New York, NY: Viking (Distributed in Canada by Penguin Canada), 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $17.50.
Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 2-6.
Review by Margaret Snow.
Emily was a serious girl.
One day while she was in a serious mood taking a serious walk, she met Duck.
As the story begins, readers meet Emily, "a serious girl." Throughout her weekly routine of serious activities, she crosses paths with fun-loving Duck. Emily questions Duck on his unconventional attire, and Duck responds consistently with his practical reason for the need to wear a different article of clothing each time their paths cross. The clothing changes with each chance meeting from socks, to a tie, to a hat, to boots, to the one all children will love - underwear, of course. The reader watches as Duck slowly but surely breaks down Emily's serious nature from shock, to a smirk, a grin, a chuckle, until finally Emily giggles in bed thinking about Duck's antics. She comes up with a surprise for Duck ... she greets him wearing a duck suit. This culminates in their both having a good laugh/quack and strolling off together, hand in hand as friends.
First time author John Nedwidek from Victoria, BC, has created an adorably, humorous picture book. The short text on each page makes it fast paced for young listeners. Children will love the repetitive nature of Emily mixed with the unpredictable antics of Duck as they giggle through the scenes. This drives home the theme of having fun and that a friend makes life more enjoyable.
Lee White, an experience picture book illustrator from Portland, OR, has implemented the perfect format to match the text. His use of a warm, muted colour palette on the sponged backgrounds with layers of splattering gives the pages a feeling of softness. This helps the reader to focus on the most important aspect, the two characters. Emily and Duck are cartoon illustrations with eyes accentuated in black pen to keep them as the focal point. Nedwidek has carefully crafted the scenes so that what is written in the text is expanded upon through White's artwork, thereby enabling the child to read the pictures while retelling the story.
Parents/educators will love to share this picture book as a read-aloud with preschool to kindergarten age children and use it in a variety of ways to help extend comprehension skills as well as for the sheer enjoyment. One might draw the child's attention to finding proof from the text in the pictures. For example, we are told Emily is serious and witness it through the illustrations as in one scene she is reading a book entitled "The Big Book Of Serious Things." In subsequent scenes, she is wearing binoculars, in a fancy restaurant, hauling her bass violin off to lessons in her wagon and having an incredibly tidy bedroom. In direct contrast, Duck is pictured as riding a unicycle while juggling fruit, racing down the street with papers flying out of his briefcase, riding a stick horse through the city wearing a too-tall cowboy hat, getting a ticket from a police officer for digging up flowers in a public park and even sailing a boat with his clothing flying from the mast to dry.
As I read Ducks Don't Wear Socks to my two- and four-year-old grandsons, they chuckled and pleaded to revisit it with me over and over again. With that kind of review from the target audience, I highly recommend this book.
Margaret Snow is a teacher-librarian and literacy teacher in a small school in Southwestern Ontario.
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