Fun with homonyms, misapprehension, and playful art defines this barnyard tale.
No one will listen to Duck’s repeated cries of “DUCK!”—not the horse, nor the cow, nor the pig, nor the sheep. In fact, they all take offense at the duck’s exclamations, misunderstanding them as self-referential and narcissistic. After each animal separately berates the duck for seeming to confuse them for one of its kind, they glare at the duck (now placing a bucket over its head like a helmet) and say, “Now listen. You need to stop this nonsense right now”; “You have to understand that everyone is different”; and “Some are ducks and some are not.” The poor duck, cowering in the lower-right corner of the recto, protests, “BUT—” and a page turn reveals the punchline: The duck wasn’t confusing the other animals for itself; it was issuing a plaintive, well-meaning homonym as a command. Alas, the animals don’t duck, and they’re squashed like the Wicked Witch of the West beneath a farmhouse that falls from the sky. A backmatter copyright page underscores the intertextual reference to Baum’s classic with a signpost labeled “KANSAS” and newspapers headlined “Tornadoes Hit Kansas” and “Batten Down the Hatches” amid the wreckage. Eckstrom’s cartoon-style art enhances the humor at every turn, even including tiny, distant images of the house hurtling through the sky on pages before its crash-landing.
Wonderful—sure to beckon repeat reads. (Picture book. 3-7)