Benjamin’s eccentric behavior and bark set him apart from other ducklings on the farm, though difference and diversity can be a positive asset in life.
Annoyed when schoolmates ignore him and won’t play, Benjamin leaves his home for new adventure. Along the way he meets a blind mole, a deaf rabbit, a lisping snake, a dog with paralyzed hind legs who uses a wheelchair of sorts, and a blackbird with wings too small to fly. Each of these disabled or challenged individuals shows Benjamin that their distinctive differences have not stopped them from pursuing productive lives. Benjamin’s awakening moment comes when the farm is invaded by a thief. A barking duck can act just like a barking guard dog to protect a home or farm from the threat of intruders. Even as the inspirational intentions of the author seem genuine, the story’s contrived approach through a forced narrative of tolerance and diversity makes it heavy-handed and didactic. Bright collage-style cartoon characters that feature big, round eyes are depicted in bold, large shapes and colors. Benjamin may learn that being optimistic about his innate difference can work as an advantage, yet does his acceptance stem from that uniqueness or from his usefulness?
Sincere but unconvincing. (Picture book. 4-8)