extraordinary must-read picture book


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.

Comments

  1. Looks like an interesting book!

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    1. It is, Peter, I think just because it's a picture book it's the sort of book you could give adults for a present.

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  2. That's why I battle duck shooting. It's killing for pleasure and one day, will be a distant memory :)

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    1. I heard on the radio the other day that many states in Australia have outlawed duck shooting, but Victoria still allows it. I agree with you, look forward too to that day...

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  3. fiddlesticks?
    Filling billies with trickle. Drops of essential water?

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    1. You can interpret this in lots of ways, I guess, but this story takes place in the aftermath of an environmental disaster.

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  4. Post-apocalyptic movies like 'Mad Max' depress me. But this book looks lovely. I like the candles :-)

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    1. This isn't depressing, that's why I think it's such an important book for young children, who have to learn about the problems we have created for the environment yet still have hope for the future so they can be empowered.

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  5. I like the candles on their heads too. The illustrations are charming.
    I would worry that the story's background concept of an apocalypse might be hard to explain to a child and might be a source of nightmares. It sounds like the gentle poetic words do a lot to make the situation less frightening and make it understandable for a child.

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    1. Yesterday I tested it out on my 6 year old grandson. He was transfixed and at the end I asked what he thought of the book. His verdict: awesome. That's why I think it is such an amazing book. I think children understand it at their level and it's not frightening.

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  6. This sounds like a great book for adults who love the earth; at first it does sound too depressing for children. But the language is enchanting, and I am glad it ends with hope and a positive message!

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    1. Hi Deb, yes it would be great for adults (like us) who love the earth. And hopefully it will prepare children to become adults who love the earth.

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  7. Oh Sue I adore children's books and used to collect them when I was teaching...this is indeed a special one with great illustrations and I too love the language.

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    1. Hi Donna, I'm not really a collector - except for children's picture books. I'm so pleased you also love this book. I think it's quite unusual.

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