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Why Ducks Sleep on One Leg

Why Ducks Sleep on One Leg

by Sherry Garland, Jean Tseng (Illustrator), Mou-Sien Tseng (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this singular collaboration, Garland's ( Song of Buffalo Boy ) breezy narrative and Jean and Mou-sien Tseng's ( The Seven Chinese Brothers ) beguiling watercolors offer an entertaining explanation of the eponymous phenomenon. Set in feudal Vietnam, this folktale centers on three ducks that have received only one leg each. Ridiculed by the other animals, and unable to paddle well enough to catch fish or to move quickly on land, these creatures feel shortchanged: ``It isn't fair that someone ran out of duck legs and forgot to make any more.'' With the help of a rooster and a goose, the three write a petition to the Jade Emperor, and appeal to the village guardian to deliver it. Yet this individual solves the dilemma himself, giving the petitioners extra golden legs from an incense burner. When he warns the ducks that they must guard their new appendages carefully, the three start a trend by tucking their golden legs up under their wings at night, ``safely out of sight.'' Garland's inclusion of select Vietnamese words lends her tale a pleasing authenticity. Readers will linger over the illustrators' crisply defined art, accented with bursts of luminescent reds, golds and greens against backgrounds of soft pastels. Elegant and funny. Ages 3-8. (Feb.)
Deborah Abbott
"Long, long ago in the land of Viet-Nam," all the newly created animals were satisfied with their bodies--except for three unhappy one-legged ducks. Tired of being harassed by other animals and unable to find food efficiently, the ducks resolve to petition the Jade Emperor. On the advice of a goose, the ducks--who lack the courage and skill needed to reach the Celestial Palace--make an arduous journey to see the local village guardian spirit, hoping he will carry their letter. When they finally arrive at the "dinh" (village communal house), they overhear the guardian spirit demanding that three extra legs on an incense burner be removed at once. And when the guardian spirit refuses their request, the ducks offer to take the extra legs off his hands. They quickly exit, finding the solid gold legs a perfect match and helpful in determining their rightful place in the animal world. Remembering the guardian spirit's warning that the legs are valuable and could be stolen, the ducks begin tucking their new legs under their wings when they sleep. This is a sparkling "pourquoi" tale, smoothly retold. The perky, colorful paintings capture the characters and dilemmas of the ducks in a refreshing fashion. The author's note at the beginning should be shared with listeners before reading the story aloud. An excellent choice for story hour and a solid addition to folktale collections.

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Age Range:
3 - 6 Years

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