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French Ducks in Venice Hardcover – December 13, 2011

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Children’s Books of the Month, December 2011: Illustrated in a style that is reminiscent of classic animated children’s films, French Ducks in Venice is a story of friendship, loyalty, loss, and healing, told with warmth and heart. A pair of ducks, Georges and Cécile, befriend a young dressmaker, Polina, who they call a “Russian princess” for her gowns made, not only of cotton and silk, but also “pieces of the night sky, and strawberry jam.” This princess has a prince, Sebastian, who makes her very happy, until one day he goes away--for good. The reader never learns why Sebastian went away, only that Polina is very sad as a result. The ducks bring Polina a gift of golden light from where the sea meets the sky, and with the passage of time she emerges from her sadness, a reassuring reminder of the endless opportunity for new beginnings and happiness. --Seira Wilson


There's virtue in presenting a portrait of loss with a spoonful of sugar; readers learn how to talk about hurt, while McGuire's cinematically lit pictures recall classic Disney images of winsome animals consoling star-crossed heroines.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition ? edition (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763641731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763641733
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Welcome to my Amazon page. I think I'm supposed to be formal here and speak about myself in the third person, but I'd rather just say hello. I'm very excited that I wrote the story for a beautiful picture book called French Ducks in Venice (play the video that the brilliant Erin McGuire made and that the equally brilliant Jeff Freymann-Weyr did the music for).

Normally I write novels for both adults and young adults (a fancy phrase for people who are 12-18, although I have lots of readers who are younger and older than that). In addition to French Duck in Venice, I am the author of My Heartbeat, a Printz Honor book, which is being reissued by Houghton Mifflin in June, 2012. I also wrote Stay with Me, The Kings Are all Here, and When I Was Older. For a long time, I lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and then in a small town in North Carolina.

Now I am living in a lot of different places at once, which can be confusing. Fortunately, my dog, Henry (see photo), comes everywhere with me.

I grew up in New York City and miss it everyday. I have an MFA from NYU and I teach writing when I am not writing.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By lastremnant on December 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When you read French Ducks in Venice, your first thought will be that this could be adapted into a movie like one of those superb indie animated films like Secret of the Kells or the Illusionist. It has a poignant feel to it and yet it's a children's book, so you can read it on two levels (which is an immediate sign that this is a good children's book as parents could read it to their children).

The artwork is amazing, beautiful, not overdone, perfectly capturing the scenes.

The story is a touching one and when it ends it will leave you wanting to know what happens next to our "Russian princess" and her gown or wishing for further adventures involving the ducks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Young Mensan BookParade on December 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The book "French Ducks in Venice" is about a wonderful friendship between Polina, a Russian Dress Maker, and Georges and Cecile, two french duck siblings who live in Venice, California. The magical friendship between talking ducks and talented clothes designer Polina was painted throughout the book softly and calmly as if looking at a beautiful watercolor painting.

At the beginning of the story Polina lived in a small and charming bungalow happily with her boyfriend, Sebastian. Polina made beautiful dresses everyday and her two French duck friends visited her everyday to admire her out-of-the-world creations. The ducks called Polina a Russian Princess for her majestic creations.

But, one day, Polina lost her inspiration because her boyfriend, Sebastian, left her to make movies in L.A. Polina was too sad to create any more dresses. Her royale friends, George and Cecile were also sad for her. The two French ducks try to encourage Polina, but nothing worked.

Finally, George decided to take on a journey to find an inspiration for Polina. After searching all over the world, George finally brought Polina a golden and soothing light as a gift. The gift helped Polina to regain strength and inspiration to creat beautiful dresses agian.

My favorite part of the book was a dreamy illustration by Erin Mcquire. McGuire captured the beauty of the canal city, Venice along with gorgeous designs on dresses.
This book would definitely appeal to the girls who appreciate beauty, independence, and strength. I think that girls age between 8 and 13 would mostly enjoy this book.

Review by Isabella S., age 7, San Francisco Regional Mensa
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on February 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
FRENCH DUCKS IN VENICE is the story of two not actually French ducks in Venice (California) and the princess they love. Well, Polina Panova is really a Russian dressmaker, but to Georges and his sister, Cécile, she is as lovely and talented as a princess should be. Polina makes beautiful dresses with "thread, silk, cotton and velvet," and also with "grass, flowers, pieces of the night sky and strawberry jam," she explains. But when her prince, a filmmaker named Sebastian Sterling, goes away forever, there is more sadness than beauty in Polina's life.

Georges and Cécile try to stop Sebastian from leaving, but it is no use. All Polina tells the ducks is that he "had to go." Instead of trying to find Sebastian and bring him back to Polina, Georges sets out to find a present for Polina, one that will bring beauty and happiness back into her life. His search for the perfect gift takes him far from the canals of Venice and out over the sea. Where the ocean meets the sky, Georges finds something for his princess --- something golden and soothing, something to inspire her and make her feel at least a little better.

FRENCH DUCKS IN VENICE is author Garret Freymann-Weyr's first picture book. The story is rich and emotionally sophisticated but told in a straightforward and delightful way. The plain language, however, is sometimes at odds with the depth of the story: the content seems intended for older readers, yet the wording seems a bit young. The illustrations by Erin McGuire are graceful and sweet, and capture all that is compelling in the story. Though the narrative has a few missteps, it remains a unique approach to the theme of broken-heartedness and the joys and comforts found in true friends.
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