Friday, April 14, 2017

On Duck Pond

by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Bob Marstall
32 pages; ages 3-5; Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2017

themes: nature, environment, observation

As I walked by the old Duck Pond,
Its stillness as the morning dawned
Was shattered by a raucous call:
A quack of ducks both large and small.

What starts as a quiet morning walk is disrupted by whistles, chitters, and chatters of ducks. Incoming! Trout and turtles scatter. Frogs leap from their lily pads. Herons fly away.

Written in lyric couplets (and the occasional triplet), Jane Yolen describes a single moment in the natural world. The text is grounded in careful observation as she describes the diversity of animals that live in and around the pond. You can almost hear them plop into the water. You can almost smell the wetness.

Bob Marstall's pastel-flavored illustrations show so much duck diversity. Look closely- there are seven different kinds. He also includes details of other wildlife: a red-winged blackbird perched on a limb, a raccoon.... kids will have fun finding the not-ducks on each page.

What I like love about this book: aside from the lyrical language and awesome art? I like the back matter: notes about ducks and birds and exploring ponds. There are photos and additional information about the birds and animals so kids can learn to identify common species in their area. Also the challenge to look more closely to find all seven different duck species.

Beyond the book:

Visit a pond or wetland. Sit quietly and observe the birds and animals that share that habitat. Listen to their songs. Take along a sketchbook and some colored pencils and collect the colors of the animals you see.

How many kinds of ducks are there? Check out this page from Cornell Lab of Ornithology - if you click on the ducks it will take you to a page in their online guide where you can also listen to their calls. (click on "see more birds" and more ducks will show up!)

Play around with this duck puzzle.

Sing a duck song or two. Here's one with actions: All the Little Ducks go Upside Down

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.We're also joining the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copy provided by publisher.

** Spring Break** Archimedes Notebook is taking a Spring Break for a couple weeks. Be back in May.


  1. Yay! A new book by Jane Yolen. The lyrical language and carefully chosen words on the first page have me eager to keep reading. I already know this is a book I'll want to own. Thank you for a lovely review.

  2. Hope I can find this - been wanting to do a storytime theme with ducks!

  3. Great activities! I can't believe I hadn't heard about this book yet. Thanks.

  4. I love Jane Yolen's quiet books about nature. There is so much to look at and ponder. The language is beautiful, as are the soft illustrations! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I just saw this in my B&N recommendations! They know what I like. :) Thanks for sharing.

  6. A duck puzzle! I love puzzles. I also appreciate the other activities. Great review, Sue. I put the book on hold yesterday, when I read about it on its blog tour. Thanks for featuring it - now I am really excited to read it now! :-)

  7. Jane Yolen is a master of poetic language. So many of her books about nature are informed by her own relationship to the natural world. Thanks for highlighting!

  8. I will be looking for this one. Jane Yolen always has something wonderful.