Review Blog

Apr 23 2013

Definitely no ducks by Meg McKinlay

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Ill. by Leila Rudge. Walker Books, 2013. ISBN: 9781921977855. 109 pp.
(Ages: 7-9) Recommended. After the very successful Duck for a day Meg McKinlay has followed up with this delightfully charming follow on story. The fact that this is written by an Australian author may make it relatable for young Australian readers however the story is not a quintessential Aussie one. In fact it presents one of those whimsical schools that only seem to exist in literature for young readers where teachers always have big frizzy hair and principals are slightly goofy. Even if the school is less than realistic it is a comforting environment to be sheltered in and makes the book light-hearted and appealing. There are many themes mixed into the story that make it a worthwhile read. First of all is Noah who, while he struggles with expressing his ideas and explaining things, is able to stand up and find his voice when he really needs to. Another nice theme is that of working together when everything is going wrong and of helping one another, even if it means losing something yourself. Alongside this is also the idea of justice and how to deal with something you feel is unfair.
Max the duck is in big trouble. The very important school assembly is just around the corner and somebody has destroyed the class Antarctica display. Everybody knows it is Max's fault. But is it really? Abby and Noah are determined to find the truth before they lose Max and their teacher. Beautiful black and white illustrations add to the story and the funny chapter headings such as 'The duck is not practical' are great. There is an underlying storyline here about animal rights and pet care which could also be explored further. While this is a shorter chapter book it will better suit a slighter older independent reader rather than a beginning reader. With the myriad of issues brought up by the story this would be great as a read-aloud or class novel.
Nicole Smith-Forrest

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