Why the tulip?

This book, HIGHLY recommended for everyone from two years old and upwards, has the title, as you can see, 'Duck, Death and the Tulip'. It is a picture book. Out of 14 images, you only see the tulip on 5 occasions, and it is never once mentioned in the words that complement the pictures.

I also counted the number of reviews on its publisher's (Gecko Press) website. There were 28 reviews today and only one of them mentioned the tulip. And Stephen Clark didn't discuss the tulip of the title, just mentioned it.

To me the meaning of the tulip is most fascinating to ponder. It could mean heaven, paradise, perfection, completion or the soul.

In the story Duck meets Death who has been behind her all the time but she didn't notice him before. Death is a bit scary, but also quite friendly. When Duck first meets Death he is holding the tulip behind his back. As Duck and Death form a relationship the tulip is not to be seen.

The tulip only re-appears when Duck dies, on the ground near her body. Death gently and tenderly carries the dead duck to a river. I think of it as the River Styx, the river which formed the boundary between this world and the next in Greek mythology. Then he places Duck carefully, respectfully, in the river, with the tulip lying on her breast.

However you interpret the symbolism of the tulip, in death Duck is finally united peacefully with her flower.


  1. What a beautiful story. Thanks for introducing me to this one.

  2. Pomona, I hope you can get it, it's an extraordinary and very unusual book.

  3. I have just discovered this beautiful story and I am simply fascineted. I was curious about the possible meaning of the tulip and did not find in any website in portuguese. So, I looked for entries in english and found yours. My interpretation was that the tulip could be the ilness or cancer since the duck started to feel that something wasn't right... But I guess only the autor knows for sure. Thank you for your post and forgive my english.
    Rachel Leite - Brazil


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