Review Blog

Mar 28 2013

Ducky's nest by Gillian Rubinstein and Terry Denton

cover image

Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 1 922077 72 1
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Change. First published in 1999, this beautifully crafted and illustrated book will find a host of new fans amongst children, parents and teachers as the story unfolds.
At its simplest the tale is of a lost toy, left in the park by a young child. The toy duck is taken aside and given shelter by the real ducks and swans in the gardens, while the child back home grieves for her lost Duckie which sleeps with her each night. Grandma and Claudie return to the park the next day and find the toy and take it back home.
But looking more closely the reader sees that the Grandmother is there because Mum is in hospital having another baby. Claudie is anxious and so all the more concerned about her lost toy. Its return sees her offering it to her baby brother, accepting the change that is going on in her life. Nurturing is a constant theme in this book, with Grandma holding Claudie close when she goes to bed, Claudie holding Duckie, the families of birds on the pond at the gardens, the care of Duckie by the ducks and swans overnight, and their search for Duckie's home, and finally the loving family scene at the end where Claudie gives her new brother her toy.
Denton's lovely pencil and water colour illustrations are delightful, rendering the Melbourne Botanical Gardens with love and affection. As night draws in the sky becomes a darker blue and feels much more ominous as Duckie is alone in the park, but as morning approaches and Claudie goes to retrieve him, the sky clears. Readers will love to find various animals hidden both in the gardens and the bedrooms of the children.
At the end of the book, as with the other in the Walker books series republishing Australian Classics, there is a piece by both the original editor (Mark McLeod), author (Gillian Rubinstein) and illustrator (Terry Denton) telling of the ideas behind both the tale and its illustrations and how the book fared when first published. It makes fascinating reading and adds considerably to the new publication.
Fran Knight

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