The difference between a snake and a snake costume is pretty big.
Duckworth is a human boy who wears knickers and stockings and whose hairstyle can only be described as a comb-forward. He’s playing contentedly in his room when a massive, orange-patterned snake slithers out of the closet. Duckworth goes downstairs and informs his parents, but Mother and Father are busy reading a book called Dealing with Your Difficult Child. They consider the snake a figment of Duckworth’s imagination—and even when the snake swallows Duckworth and comes downstairs, they insist it’s merely Duckworth wearing a snake costume. Duckworth, intact and articulate inside the snake, explains the situation, but his parents cleave to the parenting book’s philosophy that Duckworth’s “fantasies will go away if we ignore them.” As the snake sits at the dinner table, Duckworth’s bodily outline can be seen inside the snake’s midsection, far away from the table. The family has no meeting of the minds. Eventually, Duckworth extricates himself from the snake—none the worse for wear—and considers seeking a book about dealing with difficult parents. Sardà’s illustrations blend a gothic sensibility with an art deco style, highlighting geometrical patterns, sharp angles, and a lot of orange and gray. People’s skin color comes from the flat white background paper.
Unlike Maurice Sendak’s Pierre, Duckworth has no lesson to learn; readers can decide for themselves whether he’s highly imaginative or merely unflappable when swallowed. (Picture book. 4-7)