While a family of ducks swims happily on a pond, one little duck gets distracted by a butterfly only to discover, when it again becomes aware of its surroundings, that its family has disappeared! Duck’s hopes are continually raised then dashed as a host of things initially resembling various duck attributes—in sound, foot pattern, feathers, and more—are discovered upon closer inspection to not be ducks at all in this hilarious (if unintentional) parody of the “duck test”—even if it sounds like a duck, it still might not be a duck. Duck is inspired by a lost dog flyer to create one of its own just before the tender realization that its family has already covered the next telephone pole in flyers, and they are joyfully reunited. McBeth’s simple yet effective orange and blue illustrations are perfectly paired with Underwood’s sparse text to create a story that’s remarkably expressive and full, particularly for one built entirely on the words “duck” and “no.” Duck’s facial expressions are particularly demonstrative, conveying the roller coaster of emotions it experiences throughout the story. The delicious hint of suspense, clever reveals of the mistaken “ducks” (and opportunities for guessing beforehand), and just the right balance of repetition and novelty carry the story forward to a resoundingly sweet and clever finale.
Deborah Underwood has written many picture books, including Interstellar Cinderella and New York Times bestsellers The Quiet Book, The Loud Book, and Here Comes the Easter Cat.
Originally from Ohio, T.L. McBeth is an author and illustrator living and working in New York. He is the illustrator of Stegothesaurus and the Big Words Small Stories series, and is also working on writing and illustrating a few books of his own. His work has been featured on Threadless and displayed at the Society of Illustrators.
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