Peeking Ducks, by Krista Bell & Sally Rippin

Zhang, Mulong and Langshi lived on a quiet stream, not far from the busy Li River. They lived with their mother, their father and their sister, Poh Poh.
For months it has been foggy, dark and cold but now the sun was shining over the mountains.

After a long winter of cold and fog, finally it seems like Spring might be coming. Sick of being restricted by the weather, three young ducklings take advantage of an early spring day to go exploring. Their parents and sister remind them to stay close, but gradually they move further and further towards the big Li River. Along the way they encounter dangers they’d not expected but are assisted by other river creatures. Sally Rippin’s endpapers show misty Chinese mountains and set the scene for the illustrations to follow. Her palette of greens and greys evokes the misty light of the Chinese mountains and the rivers that feed from it. The ducks are brilliant white, perhaps indicating that they still have something to learn about blending in. Peeking Ducks is a large portrait format hard back with lovely heavy paper.

Young children often have no context to understand danger. They don’t know what they don’t know and can put themselves in situations of risk. So it is with Zhang, Mulong and Langshi. All they know is they are sick of being cooped up and want to get out and play. They are fortunate enough that although they encounter potential danger, they also encounter other animals who help them avoid capture. Even little Poh Poh, who at first advocates caution is seduced by the pull of the ‘outdoors’ and the notion at ‘peeking’ at new sights. Krista Bell shows that some lessons can be learnt by experience, while also reminding that sometimes parents do know what they’re warning about!

Peeking Ducks

Peeking Ducks, Krista Bell, ill Sally Rippin
Windy Hollow Books 2010

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.

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