A pushy young duck receives a sobering comeuppance in this humorous cautionary tale from France.
When the duck parent (clad in a red turtleneck sweater) suggests the family plays outside on a beautiful sunny day, one little duck shoves past the others, shouting the titular cry: “Me first! Me first!” It’s the same when the parent duck suggests fishing, and at “bath time,” the overeager fowl grabs the only inflatable water toy and thoughtlessly splashes the family. When an off-page speech bubble indicates that it’s “Time for lunch!” (in an ornate, scriptlike type that is very different from parent duck’s printing), it’s “Me first! Me first!” again—until the duckling arrives at the table just in time to learn that the menu consists of “Duck!” Tail tucked as far between the legs as a duck tail can be, the suddenly reformed offender slinks off in vocal camouflage: “Meow Meow.” Even children who do not recognize themselves in the little duck’s behavior may well have seen it played out on a local duck pond; this exaggerated look at typical duck—and human—family dynamics will ring true. Di Giacomo’s spare, textured cartoons are deceptively childlike; their sophistication emerges in telling details: The parent duck’s eyebrows betray increasing exasperation at the behavior of the wayward duckling; the little ducks are “fishing” for carnival-style rubber duckies.
A sly reminder that being first is not always best. (Picture book. 3-6)