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Author: Claire Freedman
Illustrator: Caroline Pedler (website)
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Format: padded board book
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler
Kid Love Factor: 3.5/5
Adult Sanity Factor: 3/5
A Cuddle for Little Duck was gifted to us for Boo’s first birthday, to go along with his ducky themed party. Since it was obviously chosen to suit the invitations we’d sent out, I didn’t have high-expectations of the story itself.
Turns out I was wrong. The whole family is quite fond of the book. As the mother of a toddler, it strikes a chord right from the opening lines:
The sun is up and so am I,
I’ve woken Mommy too!
I just can’t wait to start the day:
We’ve lots to see and do.
Oh, yeah. Being woken up at the crack of dawn. How well I know it.
A Cuddle for Little Duck then goes through how curiosity-driven Little Duck spends his (or her; the book is in first person and maintains gender-neutrality) day. Waddling to the river for a swim, running through the meadow chasing bugs, getting startled by a frog, resting with Mommy in the shade, playing games with other ducklings, waddling back to the nest, and finally snuggling up with Mommy to sleep until the new day starts.
The story is told from Little Duck’s point of view, with a simple yet well-executed four-line ABCB rhyming scheme on each spread of pages. The pictures are cute without being nauseatingly saccharine. They appear to have originally been oil paintings; each one illustrates the accompanying rhyme perfectly, and includes plenty of setting-appropriate background stuff to point to interested little people like ladybugs, wild-flowers, and fluttering moths.
Boo really enjoys this book, often waddling over to me with it so he can hear it again. So often, in fact, that I believe the whole story may have become a permanent fixture in my head. The kind of thing I’ll remember randomly when I’m 87, along with Hamlet’s soliloquy from Grade 9 English class and the lyrics to the German song Da Da Da.
Y’know, the types of things that’ll eventually convince Boo to put me in a home…
Autism Spectrum Bonus: The book describes everyday activities for Little Duck, many of which will be familiar or at least imaginable for kids on the spectrum. We've had good luck using Little Duck's experience with the frog to demonstrate and describe the emotion "surprised". And one of Boo's first obviously anticipitory gestures was throwing his hands up and attempting a "Hooray" when we arrived at the appropriate page. He'll also now wiggle along as Little Duck amuses his (or her) friends, as well as wish Little Duck and Mommy Duck good night when we get to the last page. All in all, the book has been a good platform for encouraging interaction with both the characters and whoever's reading.
This charming book of ducky-kind,
A parent can enjoy.
Explore the day with Little Duck,
To please your girl or boy.
A Cuddle for Little Duck on Amazon.ca
A Cuddle for Little Duck on Amazon.com