A duck encounters a sly, determined fox in a marsh setting.
On vividly illustrated pages, readers follow a duck through his day, gliding through the reeds, feasting on weeds and relishing the sun–with happy insects completing the idyllic scene. Lurking in the background, however, is a red fox waiting to surprise his unsuspecting prey. The duck doesn’t notice his predator at first, focusing instead on a beautiful butterfly, but soon sees the overbearing fox and his menacing sharp teeth. The fox takes aim and lands on the duck’s back–the resulting flurry of feathers begins to choke the fox, who begs the duck for help. Seeing a way out of his dilemma, the wise duck thwacks the fox’s head and back, clearing his throat. The fox then lets the duck go his way–hence the book’s title. Autumn arrives in a riot of colors, and the duck sees a V-shaped group of his brethren flying above. He spreads his wings, joins the troop and heads south. After the cold winter, duck returns to the marsh and is swimming with some baby ducks when he notices fox, still up to his scheming tricks. The fox’s target this time is a duckling–the duck saves the small bird by landing on the fox’s back and forcing him to let go. After a reprimand, the fox agrees to leave the ducklings alone. Weis draws on her rural childhood experience and her current Wisconsin home when she crafted this naturalistic tale. Still, some of her rhyming verse may be too mature for the children likely to be this book’s target audience, both in content and structure. Still, the text pairs well with the occasionally awkward illustrations and keeps the narrative moving at a comfortable pace. The animal characters and colorful pictures will have young children interested whether reading in a classroom setting or at home.
Readers will have to suspend some realities of the animal kingdom, but may still enjoy this somewhat charming look at nature.