Our trips to visit the ducks in the park have been enriched by the knowledge that we have gained from reading this wonderful picture book. Just today we watched a female duck taking care of her ducklings and now we know exactly why she was so keen to make sure that they stayed in the water!
The Story: A little girl wakes up in the morning and hears ducks quacking outside on the river. She describes a duck’s day in parallel with her own and explains how and why the colours of a male and female duck differ, where and how ducks lay their eggs, what they like to eat and when and where they sleep.
This beautifully illustrated, non fiction picture book is told from the viewpoint of a school child but short paragraphs of extra text also give more detailed information about ducks and their habits. A young child can learn by just reading the little girl’s account and an older child can supplement the information given in the story with the very short (but simply explained) paragraphs of extra text which also give explanations for words that may be unfamiliar. My daughter has learnt lots of new vocabulary (e.g. dabbling, upending, preen) and a wealth of information about Mallard ducks is given in an entertaining way (I also learned some new facts!). I love Salvatore Rubbino’s muted brown and green watercolour illustrations, the colours are perfect for the theme.
This would be a fantastic book to use in the classroom. It informs in an entertaining way and is a good book to use to introduce the concept of non fiction. It also has a simple index which is easy for children to use to introduce / reinforce the concepts of alphabetical order and indexing. A child could also write their own story about a bird or animal of their choice based on the layout of this book.
I used Just Ducks to stimulate a discussion about ducks with a group of three, four and five year olds and they made ducks using their handprints. Their four fingers were used as the tail feathers and the thumb was kept separate and used as a head, we cut an extra triangle to make the beak. We made duckponds out of silver foil, added weeds and waterlillies and the ducks were ready to swim!
Just Ducks is one of Walker Books Nature collection, a wonderful array of picture books which introduce children to a wide range of wildlife and animals. After reading this one we will definitely look out for more from the collection.
Age Range: 4 to 7
Author: Nicola Davies / Illustrator: Salvatore Rubbino