The Story: Mucky Duck is a white duck who lives on a pond in Oliver’s garden. She loves to cook, dig in the garden, play football and paint so she gets dirty very quickly. This means that every week she has to have a bath (which she doesn’t like) but to Mum and Dad’s consternation she doesn’t stay clean for very long!
This was one of the first picture books that I read to my daughter. Now the simple repetitive text means that she can read it to me! The story is about Mucky Duck and although the text doesn’t mention Oliver (apart from the introduction on the first page) he is with her throughout the book. Oliver and Mucky Duck get dirtier and dirtier as they take part in each new activity and their smiles show how much they are enjoying themselves! The repetition in this humorous picture book means that children can join in with the refrain ‘O you Mucky Duck’ from a very early age and they will identify with the familiarity of the situations. The simple text is supported by Neal Layton’s wonderfully comic pictures which are bold, bright and have lots of clever details. My daughter is fascinated by the picture that Oliver and Mucky Duck paint together and always turns the book around so that she can get a better look!
I have often used this story in the classroom to promote learning. All of Mucky Duck and Oliver’s activities transcend cultures so non native English speakers can identify with the activities and join in with the refrain. The text is good for introducing new vocabulary and stimulating discussion about hobbies and I have also used it as a stimulus to teach ‘I like’, ‘I don’t like’ and ‘Do you like?’. I have read it several times in Early Years classrooms, after listening to the story the children choose their own activity and draw pictures of Mucky Duck and Oliver getting dirty, e.g, jumping in puddles or climbing trees.
This lovely story with fantastic illustrations appeals to all small children who like to get dirty (and will hopefully also appeal to children who are not so keen on having a bath!).
Age Range: 2 +