Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

But what if the sky really *was* falling? DUCK!

Duck!, by Meg McKinlay/Illustrated by Nathaniel Eckstrom, (Aug. 2019, Candlewick), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536204223

Ages 3-7

It’s a quiet afternoon at the farm when a duck comes running, panicked, yelling, “DUCK!” The horse, cow, pig, and sheep each correct him, reminding him that he is the duck, and they have far lovelier qualities (like a fine pink snout or a fine pair of cloven hooves). The duck remains insistent, until the animals are tired of him and lecture him. At that point, Duck tells them to run… just in time for a house to come crashing down on the group. A newspaper headline strewn about the downed house notes that there are tornadoes in Kansas… and there’s a street sign in the debris that says, “Kansas”.

Duck! is a fun spin on the classic Chicken Little tale, with a cumulative spin added. Each animal that corrects Duck adds his own name and qualities onto the growing list of animals Duck is trying to warn. The artwork is wonderfully subtle here – alert readers will get the idea that something’s up when they see something in the sky, right next to a cloud… is that a house? As the spreads progress, the house gets closer, the sky gets darker, and leaves and household objects start entering the pages. The entire book is a sight gag and a play on words, and I love reading this to the kids. My son likes reading Duck’s parts, and I take the other animals.

The illustrations are done in pencil, acrylic, and digital and are colorful and are full-bleed, taking up each spread with something to see. The sky starts out as a light blue and darkens as the story moves forward; the characters’ faces are comical enough to mimic while telling the story for maximum laughs. Don’t miss this one.

Originally published in Australia in 2018, you can find free, downloadable activities and discussion questions at author Meg McKinlay’s website.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

The Dam Keeper: from screen to page

The Dam Keeper, by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, (Sept. 2017, :01First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781626724266

Recommended for readers 8-12

A young pig learns from his inventor father how to maintain the dam that keeps their village in Sunrise Valley safe. When Pig’s father disappears, it falls on Pig to keep the dam intact and the village safe. He’s an outcast at school, teased and ridiculed, but he never strays from his task. But a black fog is coming, threatening the Valley and the dam. Pig, with his new friend, Fox, and the reluctant Hippo, come together to answer the threat and discover what’s on the other side of the dam.

Based on the 2015 Oscar-nominated short, The Dam Keeper, this adaptation by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi – cofounders of the animation studio Tonko House – is breathtaking. They manage to give a graphic novel a stunning landscape, where the art comes alive for readers and the empathy for their main character is bottomless. Kondo and Tsutsumi create deep characters with Pig, Fox, and Hippo; one can’t help but fall in love with them and root for them.

You can rent The Dam Keeper online through YouTube and sign up for e-mails at the Tonko House website. It’s a beautiful little film that the graphic novel expands upon and enhances. A definite must-add to collections; I can’t wait to see what happens in Part 2.