Sunday, April 16, 2017

On Duck Pond

On Duck Pond
written by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Bob Marstall
2017 (Cornell Lab Publishing Group)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

A frog leaped off his lily pad,
Quite surprised and very mad.

It's pretty quiet at the old Duck Pond as the day dawns. Nice and peaceful. Until the ducks show up. They make all sorts of noise which is nicely described by a variety of vivid verbs. Different animals make a break for it to avoid the crashing fowls. In a captivating close-up, a frog jumps sky high off a lily pad. Both flora and fauna are "trembling" as viewed through the water. Even the narrator notices that his reflection is a metaphor for the scene as it is in pieces due to the duck destruction. And then, the pond becomes quiet again as the ducks have left. Each animal returns to a comfortable spot. The heron to her nest, the trout to "quiet pools", and the frog back to his lily pad. More critters join the previous occupants who were temporarily displaced. As he walks away, the narrator feels closer to the wild as they have all shared both the disquiet and the coming back together.

Like its predecessor, On Bird Hill, this book is a jewel of a small moment. On Duck Pond is what you take off the shelf when you want to show people of any age how to write a narrative. The text is captivating with spirited action words as the ducks land in the pond, and then soothing after the blusterous birds have exited. Matching the text in beauty is the artwork. I particularly like the different points of view as some illustrations are close up and others give a much wider view. It would be an interesting discussion to have as to why the illustrator made these choices for each spread.

My guess would be that one of Cornell Labs' goals with these books is to encourage children to observe the world around them and describe what they see. With the first two books that have been published, they're off to a superb start.

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