With his goose friend away for the winter, a duck tries to find a partner for his favorite game in this debut picture book.
It’s late autumn, judging by the bare trees with their few brown leaves left to drop, and a duck wanders around a small farm moping now that his playmate the goose has flown south for the winter. The animals he meets are sympathetic, beginning with a piglet: “To cheer the duck the pig said, ‘Hi!’ and danced a silly jig, / then asked him, ‘Want to play a game of Duck, Duck, Pig?’ ” But something always goes wrong; the pig’s mud puddle unfortunately makes their game “Ooey, Gooey, Icky, Sticky,” for example. This and every try concludes with “Quack, Quack, Quack— / I can’t wait till goose gets back.” After a fish, a group of snakes, a porcupine, and a moose all fail to cheer him up, the duck sits down for a little cry but then comes up with a creative solution. He gathers his friends and suggests that they can all play a new game—hide-and-seek. Heyer matches pictures with text beautifully here. Her soft watercolors in shades of brown, blue, and green, emphasized with inked outlines, convey an appropriately autumnal feeling. The animals are naturalistic but have expressive faces that show their friendliness. The duck’s cohorts are supportive and open to a new game even after he rejects their first attempts to play.
Charming illustrations and an animal story that nicely models emotional intelligence without being preachy.