Gerstein tones down the violence and ramps up the humor in this reworked version of an old tale: A year after the king “borrows” his prizewinning jelly beans, Duck the gardener marches off to get them back.
Singing as he goes—“Quack, quack, quack! / Quack, quack, quack! / I’m off to get my jelly beans back!”—Duck picks up Dog, Lady Ladder, Babbling Brook and a nest of wasps along the way. And don’t they come in handy when the king, depicted in Gerstein’s buoyant cartoon illustrations as an ill-tempered little brat, plops Duck down amid a crowd of hostile turkeys, then into a well, then into a hot oven! When the wasps at last drive the king and his equally surly mother away, a search of the castle turns up not jelly beans (as “of course the king had eaten them”), but only a lot of unwanted precious gems. However, disappointed Duck arrives back home to find the king waiting with a tearful apology and an entire pink dump truck full of jelly beans. May he stay for lunch? Of course (see title). A mixture of blocks of text and dialogue balloons carries the action along with verve. A note cites “Drakestail,” from a 19th-century French collection, as the story’s source.
A rib-tickling variant on a tale not often enough retold. (Picture book. 3-7)