written by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino
2012 (Candlewick Press)
Source: Orange County Public Library
Check out Nonfiction Monday at True Tales and A Cherry On Top
In this mix of fiction and nonfiction, a young girl hears quacking every morning. When she opens the curtains, she sees the ducks on the river. Apart from the narrative text, smaller text gives facts about ducks. On the first spread we learn that male ducks are quieter than female ducks. As the girl gets ready for school, we learn that ducks take oil from near their tail to spread on "their feathers to keep them shiny and waterproof." On her walk to school, she sees ducks dabbling (nibbling on the surface) and upending (pushing their head under the surface). After school, it's feeding time on the river. The females in their brown and tan and the mallards with their green heads interact while looking for food. Nesting time is in the spring and mother ducks will look for a spot that is hidden from predators. Once the ducks hatch, it is off to the water where there is greater safety. This is where ducks will sleep if it keeps them away from cats and other troublesome creatures. If food is available in a well lit place, the ducks will stay up late to feed. As the girl goes to sleep, all is quiet, but in the morning she knows what sound will awake her.
I really like the combination of the narrative and facts in smaller print. This is quite inventive in working in informational text. You learn quite a bit about ducks while reading a story and the watercolor artwork is very engaging. Many skills could be taught using Just Ducks! If you want to teach students how to create a time line, you can use this text to make a time line for a duck's day or for the year. You could also compare how different animals use color to attract mates. Just Ducks! would fit nicely in a unit on ducks (kindergarten teachers need to create this!) or animal behavior.