Have You Seen My Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this book would appeal to the kids. Sure, its shiny Caldecott Honor credentials attest to the quality of the illustrations within, but there are barely any words inside and the basic story about a duckling wandering off on his own while his mother goes around searching for him, seems pretty straightforward. In fact, the title — Have You Seen My Duckling? — is repeated several times in the book in the form of the mother duck’s speech, and serves as the main body text.

Well, I was wrong: it was a huge hit with both kids!

As it turned out, I’d been reading the book all wrong: instead of making sense of the story primarily through the words, my kids immediately read the story via the illustrations — obviously the way to go.

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And, true enough, when I saw them through their eyes, the story immediately became richer and less simplistic that I’d thought. The kids even managed to find the humour in the mischievous duckling eluding his concerned mom and siblings — but not the sharp-eyed reader — for much of the book. The muted palette of greens and browns used by the author is easy on the eyes, which is great since there is a wealth of details in the beautiful illustrations for the reader to discover.

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This book also serves as a gentle but effective way to open up a conversation with kids about the dangers of them running off on their own and possibly getting lost in the process.

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