'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Review: Peeking Ducks

Having spent four years living in China and a week cruising the Li River, I was most keen to see Krista Bell’s Peeking Ducks. Having also a severe infatuation with a retro book by Marjorie Flack entitled The Story About Ping – I was even more keen to immerse myself in this quacky tale, hoping it would anywhere near enchant me as Ping did as a child.

And enchant it did.

I did expect Peeking Ducks to be beautiful. I did expect it to be adorable (it features ducks, after all) but what I didn’t expect was for it to be funny. I laughed out loud at the final page… and went back and read the whole thing again.

When inquisitive, feathery brothers Zhang, Langshi and Mulong beg their parents to head off on an up-river adventure (as opposed to completing their lessons), they diligently spend their time cruising for a peek and a gander… unexpectedly courting danger as they waddle past a farmer’s net filled with quackers, a group of tethered cormorants, a hawker’s raft filled with baskets of ducks on their way to the market…

With heart in throat, I was relieved to see our little friends successfully navigate their way through the danger (unlike poor Ping), all the while being silently trailed by a little follower…

I won’t spoil how Peeking Ducks ends, but suffice to say it’s as charming as those little curled red beaks, tucked under snowy wings.

It’s no surprise to learn illustrator Sally Rippin trained in traditional Chinese painting during her time in China – her illustrations are not only gorgeously retro, using stunning techniques and colours, they are so beautifully authentic, I felt like I was back amongst the magnificent karsts that haunt the banks of the Li River.

Hazy, lustrous, perfectly complementary to Bell’s sweet storyline – Peeking Ducks is a book you’ll be repeat-reading at bedtime – and holding in hand, open-paged with one eye riveted upon it - as you book your plane ticket to China.

Title: Peeking Ducks
Author: Krista Bell
Illustrator: Sally Rippin
Publisher: Windy Hollow Books, A$25.95RRP
Publication Date: 2010
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781921136450
For ages: 4 – 8
Type: Picture Book

Teacher's Notes

This book is available online

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