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

Saturday 21 May 2011

Review: Duck, Death and the Tulip

Death in a plaid smock can be a somewhat confronting image, most probably most especially for adults, not necessarily for children. The smallest of children have a padded concept of death and its meaning, and older children probably also lack a full grasp on its finality.

This beautiful book by German author/illustrator Wolf Erlbruch, tenderly takes the concept of death – gives it a skull-like face and a smock and slippers, slips a black tulip in its paw, and introduces it to Duck.

Duck is a beautifully elegant creature who welcomes death like a friend. Not perhaps realising he is near the end of his life, Duck takes Death for a walk, they go swimming in the pond (much to Death’s disdain), they climb a tree and talk about the afterlife (but Death isn’t giving much away).

A sad sort of friendship develops between this duo until one morning Duck goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up. Death treats Duck tenderly, placing her in the water to sail away with the black tulip on her chest. The final line in the book is priceless.

An oddly haunting book with deliciously injected moments of wit, I adore the illustrations, the simplicity and the ultra-subtle messaging. Even if younger kids don’t quite ‘get it’, their psyche certainly will.

Title: Duck, Death and the Tulip
Author/Illustrator: Wolf Erlbruch
Publisher: Gecko Press, $16.99
Publication Date: August 2008
ISBN: 9781877467172
Format: Soft cover
For ages: 6 – 12
Type: Picture Book