Friday, August 17, 2012

Duck for a Day by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Rudge

I'm always looking for more beginning chapter books, but this one was a disappointment. The basic plot sounded good; Abby's parents won't let her have any kind of pet, so she's super thrilled when her new teacher has a duck for a class pet and says the kids can take it home! However, the annoying boy next door, weird Noah, also wants to take Max home for the night.

The illustrations are ok, I'm not a fan of the spaghetti-limbs style of illustration, but kids won't really care.

What didn't work for me in this book was the over the top, eccentric adult characters. Abby (rules-oriented, a bit prissy) worked fine. Noah (untidy, a little kooky) was good. Abby's teacher, Mrs. Melvino, is one of those...eccentric teachers. That only exist in books. They always have "wild, curly hair" they write in colored pen (usually purple) and have kooky glasses. They dress in eccentric clothes.

Newsflash, authors! Teachers do NOT behave or dress like this. No teachers that I've ever met, anyways, and I've met pretty much every teacher in our three elementary schools and lots of student teachers when I was at school. Student teachers might be a bit more casual, but I think you've gotten teachers mixed up with children's librarians. Some of us can be a bit kooky, yes. But I think a school principal would look askance at a teacher who lets a duck decide her class schedule.

Now, this is an Australian import, so maybe education is a bit different over there, but I think it's unlikely. I also found Mrs. Melvino's increasing demands for Max the duck weird. It was like she was behaving like a child. I also was annoyed to see that the author picked up the tired old "parents who are so obsessively neat they can't stand an animal of any kind".

Verdict: While I didn't like the adult characters in this book, the plot is just different enough to grab kids' attention and the children are well-drawn characters. I think I'll put this one down as a maybe.

ISBN: 9780763657840; Published 2012 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Added to the library's wishlist.

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