Now that the pigs, the chickens and the cows at Greenstalk’s farm have made merry mayhem (Cows to the Rescue, 2011, etc.), it’s the duck’s turn.
In this fourth episode of barnyard slapstick from Himmelman, Ernie the duck tries to solve various problems that beset the Greenstalk farm and in the process, makes a delightful hash out of things. He crashes a truck full of pumpkins that are late for the market, has to be rescued himself from the rafters by the calf he has climbed up to save, gets tied up like Gulliver when he babysits the chicks and throws a great shadow-monster against the wall when he switches on the flashlight to comfort a frightened Emily. Ernie’s animal friends feel his pain, and a lamb finds a way to restore his confidence. Himmelman’s watercolors are sure, whether depicting the brewing crisis or Ernie’s inevitable mortification. The artwork also has a comedic clarity that lifts the simple text, enlivening its deadpan humor: “I guess we can turn them into pumpkin pie,” says the farmer, pumpkin shell on head and pumpkin guts oozing everywhere. As in the earlier books, there is a hooting refrain—“Duck to the rescue!”—which will make for a raucous read-aloud.
This well-intentioned duck has a heart of gold to go with his lead foot and ham fist—er, wing. (Picture book. 4-8)