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Review of Ducks Away!

Ducks Away!
by Mem Fox; illus. by Judy Horacek
Preschool    Scholastic    32 pp.    g
1/18    978-1-338-18566-9    $16.99

Fox and Horacek (Where Is the Green Sheep?, rev. 5/04) team up again in this silly, cheerful counting book for the very youngest. When a mother duck waddles onto a bridge, she’s followed by her five ducklings — until, one by one, they fall into the river below. In a repeated refrain, the mother duck agonizes over the situation: “What should I do? Where should I go, with four on the bridge and one below?” Eventually, with all five ducklings swimming about in the river, the mother duck figures it out — with the help of her much-more-laidback offspring. The text and art work together beautifully: the text is brief but dramatic (exclamation marks are used to perfection), and each time a number is mentioned, it is highlighted in orange, reinforcing the arithmetical concepts. The bright primary-and-secondary-colors art manages to be both minimal, with an age-appropriate complete lack of background detail, and hilarious. The motion lines as each duckling falls into the water; the wordless splash that follows, with the little orange duckling feet sticking up: slapstick visual humor ideal for the audience. Preschoolers will hardly notice that they are learning addition and subtraction, so taken will they be by the dithering of the hapless mother and the topplings of the ducklings. Add this to your counting book shelves right quack, er, quick.

From the January/February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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