Ducks Away by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (Omnibus Book)
HB RRP $19.99 ISBN 978-1-76015-851-4
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
A mother duck is taking her five ducklings for a walk when a gust of wind blows one little duckling off the bridge and into the water below. One by one, as these curious little ducklings peek over the edge, they tumble into the water also, until the mother duck is left by herself wondering what to do. Her babies suggest she jump to join them, but it’s a long way down. What is Mother Duck to do?
The last book Fox and Horacek created together was Where is the Green Sheep? a delightful picture book full of humour, quirky characters/sheep, colour and entertainment. Ducks Away is just as enjoyable and engaging.
This simple story is perfect for the very young. The illustrations are entertaining and colourful, yet simple, with nothing distracting from the central storyline. It has a comfortable, story-telling voice, with repetition in the story structure as well as a repeated, rhyming refrain quacked by the mother duck.
‘What shall I do?
Where should I go,
With four on the bridge
And one below?’
The numbers in the refrain change each time another duckling falls, adding a new dimension to the traditional counting book.
Mem Fox is one of Australia’s best loved story tellers for the very young and with this new twist to the ‘Five Little Ducks’ classic it is easy to see why. This is a wonderful book to read to babies, toddlers and preschoolers at bedtime - or anytime of the day. The ending satisfyingly tips the mother/child bond on its head and sees the ducklings giving mum the confidence she needs to make the leap from the bridge.