In this debut children’s book, a little duck has an adventure of self-discovery.
Daffern spins a tale of a duck named Webster, who “has a bill for a mouth, two webbed feet, and feathers that are fluffy like a cloud.” Why, then, isn’t Webster a better swimmer? The duckling, who “always looks on the bright side of things,” reasons that it must be because he isn’t actually a duck at all. Despite his mother’s assurances that he has “other special gifts,” Webster sets out on a journey to discover his real identity. Mother Duck obligingly packs his favorite foods (“plants, grasses, and earthworms”) for a snack, and he “heads out into the great big world.” In reality, it’s just a traipse around the pond, as the duckling wonders if he has talents similar to those of his friends, whom he encounters one by one: Stenchy the Skunk, Scooter the Squirrel and Croaker the Frog. But Webster can’t muster up a smell like rotten eggs or climb a tree, and he doesn’t have a long, sticky tongue. However, Webster’s friends all agree that he does have other valuable traits that are “like a duck indeed.” As the sun sets, Webster doesn’t want to swim home, so he counts off his duck attributes—his bill, webbed feet, wings and feathers—and discovers that he has a talent for flying. Daffern conveys her appealing message with playful language and a warm, light touch. That same tone is reflected in the book’s illustrations, particularly in the sweetness of the characters’ expressions, although the images are otherwise rather rudimentary. The tale shows young readers that the journey to discover one’s own special gifts is important and worthwhile. Webster’s happy, floaty-assisted jump into the pond provides the story with a pleasant conclusion.
A little duck discovers what he’s really good at in this reassuring tale, although it might have been better served by more refined illustrations.