John Philip Duck

( 3 )


Edward loves his pet duck more than anything. He raised it from a baby, and now it follows him everywhere&150even to the big fancy hotel in Memphis where he works with his father. Everyone at the Peabody loves to watch that little duck do tricks; why, it can even waddle up and down in time to a John Philip Sousa march, which is why Edward decides to name it John Philip.

But one day the hotel owner finds John Philip in his lobby fountain and he is NOT amused. Until Edward has...

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Edward loves his pet duck more than anything. He raised it from a baby, and now it follows him everywhere&150even to the big fancy hotel in Memphis where he works with his father. Everyone at the Peabody loves to watch that little duck do tricks; why, it can even waddle up and down in time to a John Philip Sousa march, which is why Edward decides to name it John Philip.

But one day the hotel owner finds John Philip in his lobby fountain and he is NOT amused. Until Edward has an idea. What if he can train a bevy of ducks to march along behind him, swim in the fountain all day, and then march out every evening? If Edward can do that, the owner tells him, he and John Philip will have a permanent place at the Peabody. But can it really be done?

Based on the real-life tradition of the Hotel Peabody Ducks, Patricia Polacco's latest picture book is one of her most charming to date.

During the Depression, a young Memphis boy trains his pet duck to do tricks in the fountain of a grand hotel and ends up becoming the Duck Master of the Peabody Hotel.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Polacco (Thank You, Mr. Falker) adds another feather to her picture-book cap with this fictionalized look at how a lobby fountain at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., famously became home to a group of performing ducks. During the Depression, young Edward finds work with his father on the Peabody staff. Though he knows it's against the rules, Edward keeps a pet duckling at the hotel, where he teaches his web-footed friend to march to John Philip Sousa music. Almost all the hotel employees collude with him, but the strict general manager, Mr. Schutt, eventually discovers the secret and ends up challenging Edward to train a whole group of ducks to be a tourist attraction. Edward, more than up to the task, soon establishes himself as the hotel's first "official Duckmaster," a position that the real-life Edward Pembroke held for more than 50 years. Polacco once again taps her talent for weaving threads of history and family stories (this time, someone else's) into an appealing and enlightening package. With its carefully chosen, subtly phrased details, the well-paced tale offers a distinct snapshot of a particular time and place. The artist's signature gouache-and-pencil compositions-a dusty, humble Tennessee farm; the neatly appointed hotel fountain and tables set for tea; proud parading ducks- encourage readers to explore an entertaining and enduring tradition. Ages 5-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Inspired by the Peabody ducks that swim in the Peabody Hotel lobby pools, Polacco has woven a tale of Depression times with a band-loving young hero. Edward and his father work in the Memphis hotel during the week and return to the farm on week-ends. While there, Edward finds a lost duckling that he wants to care for. He sneaks it into the hotel and manages to keep it hidden from the manager with the help of the other staff members. The duck is soon named John Philip Duck because he marches to Sousa band music and Henry's drumming. When the manager finally sees the duck, Henry persuades him that he can train John and other ducks to march to the hotel fountain. He succeeds, to the delight of all; ducks are in the lobbies today. Deft, double-page watercolor and pencil illustrations are composed with an eye for the tension of the hiding and discovery along with the underlying humor of the manager's exaggerated mannerisms. The hotel staff and guests are individuals playing their roles with verve in the grand spaces of the Peabody. The visual narrative does a fine job telling the story of virtue rewarded. Note the engaging portrait of John on the jacket versus the earlier one on the cover, and the delightful end-papers. 2004, Philomel Books/Putnam Young Readers Group, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Every morning at 11 o'clock a group of ducks exits an elevator and enters the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN. They parade on a red carpet to a fountain in step to a John Philip Sousa march, led by a uniformed Duckmaster. They swim there all day and then return to their rooftop home. The duck march began during the Depression and continues to this day. Using these basic facts and filling in the gaps with her considerable imagination, Polacco chronicles the story of Edward Pembroke, the first Peabody Duckmaster, who finds an orphaned duckling, takes him to work with him, and, with patience, gentleness, and love, teaches him tricks, eventually impressing the hotel manager. This is Polacco at the height of her form in terms of both text and illustration. The story moves smoothly from start to finish and has a refreshing air of innocence. The artwork is simply beautiful as the artist orchestrates a harmonious symphony of color. The facial expressions are priceless. It is impossible not to smile as little John Philip Duck dances and cavorts throughout. This book is a winner in every way.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it's there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco's most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399242625
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 6/17/2004
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 299,160
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco
Patricia Polacco lives in Union City, Michigan.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2007


    By: Patricia Polacco I think this book is a great, 5 , heart-warming book. You¿ll always want to know what will happen next. This is one of my top 10 books I have read in my whole life! You duck lovers will especially love it! This book is about a boy Edward and how he finds a tiny little duckling that dances when it hears a song by John Philip Sousa. With this, Edward names his duck John Philip Duck. If you like books with humor and excitement this is the book for you!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2007


    The book, John Philip Duck, is great! I loved it! It is a great story about a boy, named Edward Pembroke, in the Great Depression. He finds a tiny duckling without a mother and keeps it. He works at a hotel and sneaks his duck past the hotel manager. He named his duck John Philip Duck, after John Philip Sousa, a marching band leader. John Philip became very well-known, for a duck. People from around the world came to see the ducks march! This story is based on a true story about the Great Depression, a hotel with marching ducks, and the first official duck master, Edward Pembroke. I recommend this book to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2015

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