Facts about ducks and their basic characteristics are clearly stated here. The differences between dabbling and diving ducks and the general life cycles are delineated. Along with the types of wild ducks, domesticated ducks raised for food and as pets are also described, all in a light-hearted rather than serious way. Gibbons also notes the need to protect the habitats of ducks along the flyways from the hazards of construction, oil spills and other accidents. Although naturalistic, the colored drawings are far from photographic. They are mainly presented in vignettes showing a few ducks in some appropriate action—diving, taking off and floating. Bits of landscape and vegetation are included to enhance the esthetic appeal, while additional information is tucked into the illustrations. The facts are readily accessible both visually and verbally to interested youngsters, and there is a final page of added notes. 2001, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
From The Critics
There are over a hundred kinds of ducks in the world: Gail Gibbons' Ducks provides young picturebook readers with a basic primer on their natural history, complete with details on how the ducks life. Color drawings accompany the simple duck facts.
There are more than 150 kinds of ducks, divided into two types: diving ducks and dabbling ducks. Gibbons briefly describes and illustrates both kinds, then presents the lifecycle of the familiar mallard dabbling duck in greater detail. She explains the different ways of migration, the return to build nests, lay and incubate eggs, and hatch ducklings, which then grow to repeat the cycle. The last section discusses domesticated ducks and makes a case for protecting those in the wild. Gibbons provides detailed watercolors on every page with handsome portraits of many different ducks, labeled for identification of parts as well as types. The main text is placed on white space at the bottom, leaving room for the lovely drawings. While each picture does not fill the page, Gibbons's trademark pieces break through the borders and extend the scenes. One quibble: the duckling emerging from the egg appears to be fluffy and dry, while in reality a newly emerged duckling is slippery wet. A final page concludes with additional interesting facts about ducks. Young readers will enjoy this appealing introduction to the familiar waterfowl by the prolific science writer who has provided so many outstanding science titles. (Nonfiction. 7-9)