When Brother Duck and Sister Duck receive a gift of butterfly nets, the siblings go against Mama and Papa Duck’s wishes and wander off into the woods, lost in the chase to catch any small critter that crosses their path.
When nightfall suddenly catches the ducklings in the middle of the forest and the reality of being lost hits the ducklings, their cries are heard by Ms. Owl, who gathers the forest animals to call out for Mama and Papa Duck. The illustrations depict a comical, lively character ensemble of distinct personalities. One after another, each animal howls out their unique distress call: Ms. Wolf’s “piercing howl,” Mr. Moose’s “earthshaking bellow,” Ms. Fox’s “shrill scream,” and Mr. Bear’s “fierce growl.” Eventually, it is the combination of simultaneous animal screeching that leads the Duck parents to their lost ducklings, who send up their own peeps into the night. At the end, the Duck parents deny hearing all of the other animals that helped the ducklings, confessing to only hearing their ducklings’ “sweet peep-peep-peep” amid the noise. Gorbachev’s friendly cartoons depict clothed, anthropomorphic forest animals, the ducklings’ urgent body language instantly recognizable. The animals’ vocalizations will make for rousing read-alouds.
This easy-to-follow-along tale with its happy-family ending will make for a great bedtime story. (Picture book. 3-6)