A duckling wants to be just like his porcine parents when he grows up.
When their anthropomorphic alligator teacher asks them to share “Who do you want to be like when you grow up?” animal children voice admiration for same-species parents. Martin the fawn wants to have antlers so he “can be as handsome as Dad”; little zebra Ema wants her legs to be like her father’s so she “can run around the meadow”; and an elephant calf wants a trunk like his grandpa’s to help him cool down. Johnny the duckling looks worried when the teacher prompts him to respond, and a sequence of double-page spreads reveals the reason for his hesitation: his parents are not ducks but pigs, and he doesn’t have their physical attributes. But he comes up with several ways that he is like his parents, providing credence to the nurture side of the nurture/nature equation in child-rearing. Many will regard this book as a nod to inclusivity of human adoptive families and perhaps particularly transracial ones—but it’s an uneasy metaphor that uses different species to represent different races, and it’s not as though there’s a surfeit of books about human transracial adoption. Closing illustrations of the children’s family portraits reveal a two-daddy lion family and the elephant calf with his grandparents instead of parents.
Love makes a family, but this may not be the best book to demonstrate this truism. (Picture book. 3-7)