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DUCK’S TALE by Harmen van Straaten


by Harmen van Straaten & illustrated by Harmen van Straaten & translated by Marianne Martens

Age Range: 3 - 5

Pub Date: April 1st, 2007
ISBN: 0-7358-2133-X
Publisher: NorthSouth

Something seems to have been lost in translation in this Dutch picture book featuring a story-within-a-story framework. After Duck asks bespectacled Toad to identify the red pen he found, he is convinced that if his formal, portly pal can read with the glasses he discovered, then he, Duck, can certainly compose a story with his new pen. So he begins to scribble and then asks Toad to read it. Toad’s interpretation of the scribbles is a tribute to the friends who saved Duck after his migrating parents abandoned their duckling. With a confusing start, the text is choppy and wrongly implies that Toad is an illiterate fraud. As stand-alone art, the delicate illustrations are lovely, with flowing lines and soft watercolor washes in a marshland palette. But the narrative quality of the paintings is questionable, with sometimes puzzling perspective; plot elements missing in action; and endpaper portraits of a jazzercise Duck that don’t jibe with the plot. In the end, this is a duck’s tale most fowl, er, foul. (Picture book. 3-5)