When we recently went on our weekly trip to the library we spotted a lovely little book called Five Little Ducks, the book was very appealing the front cover picturing a Mummy duck with her 5 little babies.
The book is written by Ian Beck and the RRP is £5.99 although I have spotted it on Amazon for £3.31. Ian Beck is an English childrens author and illustrator and is famous for illustrating the front of Elton John's album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
The book is approx. 6 inch square and the front cover has the title written across it in yellow like he ducks colour and then there is a white Mummy duck with her five yellow baby ducks. There is not too much detailing in the picture making it nice and simple for little ones and then there is some water, fields and the sky pictured behind. On the rear of the book there are a couple of little reviews, The Independent says "This is a clear, satisfying book, instantly memorable" and Child Education says "reinforces the learning process through repetition, rhythm and rhyme."
Inside the front cover you find a green page with a yellow circle on it in which is pictured a little duck and the words this Orchard book belongs to and then a couple of lines on which you can write your child's name, I never let my daughter write her name on these pages as I think it is always nice to be able to pass books down. On the next double page you find five rows of pictures of the Mummy duck leading her babies along the water, on two of the lines the words one to five are written and on one of the lines the numbers 1 to 5 appear under each duck, myself and my daughter used this page to match up the numbers to the words so I found this page was a nice addition to the book.
The story is actually the rhyme of 5 little ducks that we were taught in school, the book begins with Mummy duck telling her little ducks to go for a swim "Five little ducks went swimming one day, over the hills and far away" on the second page Mummy duck calls out to her little ducks but only 4 come back "Mother duck said quack, quack, quack, quack but only four little ducks came back." The book continues all the way through the rhyme but at the end of the book instead of no little ducks came back which is what I remember of the rhyme all five little ducks come back to finish the book.
The pictures of the book tell an extra bit of the story which myself and my daughter really enjoyed discussing, when only four little ducks come back you see the missing duck wandering up a lane to a wooden shed where you can see a foxes tail sticking out. When only three little ducks come back you see the missing duck walking up the same lane but this time he is walking along with the fox. For the next two ducks going missing you again see them pictured around the lane with the shed in the background and them being led away for the fox. When the last little duck goes swimming on his own you see the little duck approaching the shed and then opening the door to reveal the four missing ducks and then all five of them return to their Mummy.
We both enjoyed this book and it is actually very hard to read without actually singing the words! My daughter has learnt this rhyme at school so she enjoyed singing along with it and after we have finished reading the book she likes to sing the rhyme to me although she too has been taught that no ducks come back at the end of the rhyme. The pictures are bold and simple and easy to follow which is good as like I say the pictures tell another bit of the story and my daughter liked to point out what the naughty fox was doing.
This book was good for us as we are worried that a fox has been trying to get our pet rabbit and our daughter had heard us discussing it so it was good to show that the fox hadn't hurt the little ducks and we have convinced her that the fox in our garden is just trying to play with the rabbit ( have to hope the fox doesn't manage to get him now we've said that)
This book is simple and enjoyable, it is very repetitive which is good for children learning to read which my daughter is and I would certainly recommend the book, my daughter is 4 and she thoroughly enjoyed it.
My oldest son, age 4 at the time asked for this book as he always enjoyed the rhyme. When it arrived though, the youngest latched onto it and wouldn't be parted with it, trailing it about and asking for it to be read 10 times a day, so I had to buy two copies.
The text of the story is only the words to the well known nursery rhyme.
The illustrations add a bit more to the story though. Each time the ducks swim out, the pictures show one little duck being led away by a fox. We added our own words in, saying things like "uh oh he's not supposed to go away with strangers, that's very bad" and "bad fox is going to lock him in the shed so he can't go home to his Mommy". One little duck however is too smart for the fox and never goes away with him. This one is able to rescue his brothers ( or sisters) and so at the end of the book when Mother Duck calls "quack, quack, quack, quack" all five little ducks come back.
My opinion: The illustrations are very well done and the fox adds another dimension to the retelling of this nursery rhyme. I also liked the fact that it created another opportunity to discuss safety rules without being overly frightening.
The children's opinion: Both boy loved this book and it has been read over and over..... and over and over and over......
This book is also available as a board book which would be a better choice for babies or very young children.