Have you seen Duck? He’s yellow and raggedy. He smells like a blanket. He feels soft and woolly. And he’s also the subject of a very sweet board book about companionship.
Duck by Janet A. Holmes and Jonathan Bentley, was first published in 2009 and has recently been released as a board book. At first glance, Duck appears to be a simple story about a little boy who has lost his favourite toy – Duck. The boy informs us that he is Duck’s hero and that Duck does whatever the boy does –
“Duck won’t start his dinner until I’ve started mine. Duck can’t go to sleep unless I’m in bed too.”
Of course, any parent who has had a child with a security blanket or toy will understand what the boy is really saying!
One day, Duck is gone. The little boy looks everywhere for Duck and asks all sorts of people if they’ve seen him, to no avail.
“That evening, I sat at the table, but couldn’t eat my dinner. I had a bath, but didn’t want to splash.”
But who is hiding between the couch cushions? Duck! The story could end with the little boy whispering goodnight to Duck and hugging him tight. But there’s one more page and this is what makes Duck a truly lovely book –
“This is Duck. Duck lives at my house. I think Duck’s the greatest. Duck’s my hero.”
Some will say that this ending is a little too ‘self-aware’ for a toddler – I say it is perfection. It takes a simple story (and a board book, nonetheless) and gives it rich meaning, using language and images that young children will understand.
The ink and watercolour illustrations go a long way in expressing the changes of emotion that the little boy experiences, beginning with the boy and his proprietorial air as he goes about his day with Duck in tow, to his despair when Duck is lost and finally his joy when Duck is found.
Duck is suitable for children aged two years and over and is available at all good bookshops or online at Fishpond.