“ Genre: Junior Books / Author: Amy Hest / Hardcover / Reading Level: Ages 9-12 / 32 Pages / Book is published 1996-08 by Candlewick Press (MA) „
Baby Duck and the Bad Eyeglasses
I hadn't come across this book, and "discovered" it when we were involved in a topic about similarities and differences and making other people feel safe and happy about themselves. It is a good book to read to young children, because it does focus on how dreadful it is when we feel bad about ourselves.
~~~~Story and Illustrations~~~~
The story starts with Baby Duck looking in the mirror and adjusting her new glasses. We see a cute yellow duckling standing on a stool touching her glasses and looking thoroughly miserable. The glasses are too big on her face, and hurt; instantly, we feel sympathy for baby Duck's predicament.
When mum and dad tell her it's time for the park, and insist she looks good in her glasses, Baby Duck just sits at the bottom of the stairs with her head in her hands. As the family walk to the park, baby Duck won't hop or dance in case her glasses fall off.
When they get to the park, she sits behind a tree and sings a very sad song "Poor, poor baby, she looks ugly in her bad eyeglasses". At this stage, we really do feel sad for her, because she obviously feels so bad about herself. Mum and dad do look concerned as they stand and look at Baby Duck, and while we can see other ducks playing in the background, we realise that Baby Duck is too distressed to play.
Grandpa is concerned, because when he comes to the park and looks at Baby Duck, she is sitting with her face pressed against the tree. Grandpa sits behind the tree and tries to coax baby Duck from her hiding place. He admires the hiding place, and tries to guess the colour of the glasses; all this time, the pictures show baby Duck slowly moving from behind the tree until she is out and looking at Grandpa. He of course, likes her glasses, and children quickly notice that they are exactly the same as Grandpa's- same colour and style. Clever Grandpa gets baby Duck to run into the pond and splash, he gets her to twirl, and as she does, we see an ever more delighted baby Duck, as she realises that her glasses are not going to fall off.
Grandpa then takes baby Duck to the pond, and there we see a boat, named B-a-b-y. Yes, children try to read it with baby Duck, and quickly understand that she can read the words because she can see.
A happy ending (as I like it). Grandpa, mum and dad get into one boat, while baby Duck gets into her own boat, singing a happy little song "I have nice new eyeglasses! I look like my Grandpa. My rowing boat is lots of fun And I can read my name on it".
The illustrations are bright and large, and children will notice all the bits of detail. We especially like the rather dapper clothes- waistcoats for the men, shawl and straw hats for lady ducks. In the house, there are bits of detail which makes the house look all homely- wellies with bunny pictures at the bottom of the stairs, plastic duck in the bathroom.
~~~~Other Bits of information~~~~
Publisher: Walker Books
Another Title: In the Rain with baby Duck
~~~~What I think of the book~~~~
Having never read this book before, I will be reading it again.
The pictures are colourful and appeal to young children, because they definitely depict ducks! There is no guesswork as to what each character is supposed to be. Even the inside front cover has a rather sweet picture, with baby Duck sitting on a wooden stool looking at an eye test; children are often familiar with these because they will often have had their eyes tested.
The text is simple, with not lots of writing on each page; what text there is complements and relates directly to the picture on each specific double page spread, and the font is a rather nice large font, which children find easy to read by themselves.
We do feel sympathy for baby Duck, and want her to feel better about herself. Grandpa does a great job of cheering her up, and this can lead to lots of discussion about how we can help people feel better if they feel down. We talked a lot about what kind of things can make us feel bad about ourselves, and talked about what we should try to do if we know someone is sad.
Apart from being the type of book which will promote discussion, even with very young children, it's a sweet story book, and pleasant to read just as a story, without wanting to get any discussion. However, when I read it to little Miss, she was drawn in to the feelings of baby Duck, and did talk about why she was sad. There was a definite empathy and a feeling of relief when she was happy again.
A recommended book, for the storyline, bright pictures and very important message.
Thanks for reading.