In this tender story, a newborn duckling experiences music as sweet solace and meaningful communication while searching for love.
Moments before a “sudden and mighty gale whipped the seas into a raging fury,” a beaming Capt. Alfred had bestowed a name on the fragile egg nestled in his violin case—a present for his wife. The jovial bald white man had fiddled for his crew (ducks and dog), leading them in a merry, anticipatory dance. As stirring language and sweeping brush strokes conjure a fearsome tempest, a capsized boat, and a silent fog, everything disappears. Eventually Alfred Fiddleduckling emerges, floating along in an open violin case, reaching out to caress a piece of flotsam: the fiddle; he continues to interact with it after reaching land, captivated by its voice. The sounds from the instrument, rendered in acrylics as swirls of brilliant, feathery colors, waft through the dense atmosphere, finding first the dog and then the captain’s anxious wife (also white). Ering replaces words with visual clues to suggest homecoming, thereby avoiding a too-tidy conclusion. The vibrant yellow of the protagonist merges with the home’s brilliant illumination in the final scene. Layered with energetic paint strokes, delicate ink drawings, and warm touches of charcoal and graphite, the compositions are full of high drama, nuanced emotion, and humor.
Exuding a zest for living and loving, this nautical narrative is an ode to joy. (Picture book. 4-6)