Duck, Duck, Goose

Betsy Bird, alias "Fuse #8" occupies a singular place in the kidlitosphere. From her "hot men of children’s literature" to her reportage from publishers’ PR extravaganzas, her blog has become the Grand Central Terminal of our burgeoning online community. It’s a starting point for those first venturing into our happy realm, but also an absorbing destination for the well-seasoned traveler, with something glittery and new at every turn.

Sadly for her fans, Betsy’s temporarily banned from reviewing Middle Grade novels since being tapped as a Newbery judge. She’s still posting reviews to picture books, however, and here’s her take on Tad Hill’s Duck, Duck, Goose, a sequel to a story that delighted many of us with its two quarrelsome fowl.

Ducks and geese are not immediately adorable creatures. Anyone who has
ever been bitten by a duck or chased by a hissing goose will agree with
me here. Yet due to that law of nature that states that any and all
creatures must start out cute in order to survive (the sole exception
being pandas), baby ducks and baby geese are nothing short of
adorableness incarnate. With his first book “Duck and Goose”,
author/illustrator Tad Wade went from fabulous Halloween costumer
designer and husband of half of Schwartz & Wade to a star in his
own right. His book was the kind of cute that everyone can agree on.
There is good cute in this world and there is bad cute (ala Disney
Cuties) and Mr. Hills has successfully placed his creations in the
former category. His first Duck & Goose book was a well-deserved
hit and now a sequel is here to follow-up the tale. If a ball was the
mysterious visitor in the first book, imagine what a mysterious talking visitor could do.


This will sound like an odd compliment, but I’m going to mean every
word of it. Children’s books fall all too easily into the well-worn
grooves of their predecessors. You have your Amelia Bedelia knock-offs,
your Where the Wild Things Are knock-offs, your Eloise knock-offs, etc.
The Frog and Toad knock-offs are what I’m thinking of in this
particular case. Lots of books feature two friends where one is
perpetually grumpy and the other perpetually sunny. One worries and the
other flits about. I can think of five different books off the top of
my head that fit this formula, and without having read this book you
might think that the Duck and Goose qualify for this stereotype. What
makes Mr. Hills work so remarkable, however, is that he’s managed to
put a great deal of characterization into Duck, Goose, and Thistle
without complicating his narrative or making it overly familiar.

Take the time and read the rest.