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Clever Duck Hardcover – September 30, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1–3—The pigs on the farm think that all of the other animals are "ignoramuses"—until they meet the clever duck Damaris, educated by her sheepdog friend. When the pigs escape due to the machinations of the duck and dog and are trapped by Mr. Crook, who is about to sell them to market, the duck rescues them and gains the respect of the pigs as well as the farmer and his wife. The expressive black-and-white cartoons, which appear on almost every page, add some humor. Names such as Mrs. O'Bese and Mrs. Stout are good for a chuckle as well, but some of the vocabulary, such as "squelching" and "pontificating," might be beyond the easy-chapter-book audience. Fans of the author might want to pick this up, but it's far from King-Smith's best work.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA
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As responsible and thinking adults, I think it is important that we are careful about the illustrations included in a children's book as we are the written material. What chance do children have when all they are familiar with is that which is ugly? And what has been seen cannot be unseen. There is enough ugliness in children's live. Children are pomparded and surrounded by ugliness. Children need the beautiful. Children respond positively to beauty.
There are several other Dick King-Smith books illustrated by Nick Bruel in which the pictures are equally grotesque. Usually, unless the books have been revised, you ( and the children) are safe with books published prior to 2000. If a book is published recently -- especially since 2008, I review the book before giving or sending the book to my grandchildren. If the cover art is unappealing, I do judge a book by it's cover art. The picture on the cover sets the tone. Also, a heads-up, many books published twenty or more years ago, that are very good, and had lovely cover art, are being revised or given euphemistically a "fresh, new look" that is usually not nearly as nice as the older edition. The American Girl Series is an example of this dumping-down. When I encounter this degradation, I search used book stores for older books. It's fun and often less expensive. But concern-provoking, as well. Remember always, "it's not a trend, it's a choice."