The Duck and the Darklings is an extraordinary, unusual and special picture book, highly recommended for all ages. It's simply the best picture book I have ever seen. It takes place in a post-Apocalyptic, ruined world where people live underground and children go to the surface searching for things that may be of use.
Grandpapa's eyes shine when he remembers the beauty of the world, and Peterboy wants to find something wonderful to light up Grandpapa's eyes and keep the light there. He finds a duck, Idaduck, broken and wounded, and Grandpapa mends her from top to tail.
This sounds grim and depressing, and it's true that the story is tinged with sadness and loss. But it is also a story of hope, love and family. And it has a happy ending. Over time the world heals itself, and the beauty of flowers and forests return.
The illustrations are perfect, but I especially love reading and re-reading this book because of the language. Poetic, gentle, evocative words...
The Duck and the Darklings reminds me of another picture book - Death, Duck and the Tulip. Both books cover complex themes in a simple yet authentic way and both books defy categorization. And, interestingly, both stories have ducks in them. What is it about ducks? Leunig also features a duck in lots of his cartoons.
In The Duck and the Darklings, the duck plays a similar role to the dove in Noah's Ark. Healed, refreshed and renewed, she flies away and discovers a world that is also healed, fresh and renewed.
The Duck and the Darklings, by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King, was published in 2014 by Allen & Unwin.