THE WOUNDED DUCK by Peter Barnhart


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A lugubrious piece of sentimental bilge about the love between an old woman and her duck--which might be taken as a fable of a possessive lover's emotional blackmail, but doesn't seem meant to be. When the old woman decides to go South for the winter (""my bones weren't made for this weather"") and to board her duck at the neighbors' farm, the duck fakes a coon attack, bloodying and blinding himself in the process, and so she stays home to care for him. The next year he keeps her home by making himself deaf, and the old woman blames coyotes. And so as the third winter approaches, she dies (""My bones weren't made to last forever""), rocking the duck by the fire and singing the story's soft refrain: ""Oh, the lord loves the duck,/ And the duck loves me./ Our souls will rest,/ Neath the wide willow tree."" And they do, when the old woman is buried and the duck flies off from the neighbors' pen to sleep on her grave. Adams' illustrations in muted winter tones are right for the story, and might even serve one more genuinely sad, but they don't make this one any less sappy.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1979
Publisher: Scribners