9 of Our Favorite Picture Book Ducks

Make Way for Ducklings

Ducks, scientifically proven to be the funniest animal, are naturally frequent subjects of picture books. But don’t assume that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s going to be the same duck every time. Different duck tales feature diverse duck personalities. What kind of duck are you?

The Responsible Duck:
Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
Moving is understood to be one of life’s greatest opportunities to enjoy stress. How do you choose the right neighborhood? Will there be foxes in the woods, or turtles in the water? What’s the commute going to be like? Will anyone feed us peanuts? Mr. and Mrs. Mallard explore these questions and more as they look for the perfect place to raise their family.

The Fortunate Duck:
Lucky Ducklings, by Eva Moore and Nancy Carpenter
Mother Duck and her ducklings went for a walk, but while Mommy wasn’t looking, the kids fell down the storm drain. Happens to all of us, right? Anyway, as the title implies, things turn out for the best, so don’t be scared. Spoiler alert: Based on a true story!

The Ambitious Duck:
Duck for President, by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
“Why is Farmer Brown in charge, anyway?” Tired of his chores, Duck creates a special election and defeats Farmer Brown handily. But even as he realizes how difficult it is to run a farm, he sets his sights on the greener pastures of government employment. Duck’s political ambitions (or, rather, his desire to escape chores) lead him, of course, to the White House, where he learns, of course, that running a country is hard work, too!

The Naturalist Duck:
Goose and Duck, by Jean Craighead George
What little boy hasn’t been mother to a goose who was mother to a duck? If that isn’t the most universal of stories, I don’t know what is. But really, it should be. If this book doesn’t make you want to go out looking for unaccompanied waterfowl eggs, I don’t know what will. Bonus points: Solve the mystery of “The Police Chief’s Missing Mustache”!

The Reckless Duck:
Friday Night at Hodges’ Café, by Tim Egan
“Hodges is considered by many to be the finest pastry chef in the city. Too bad his duck is so crazy.” So begins the first adventure of one of the greatest antiheroes in picture books: The duck. Watch as the duck throws ice cream on the floor—just to watch it smoosh! Gasp as the duck confronts the menacing tigers as they threaten the cafe’s peaceful clientele! Marvel at the duck’s bravery, even as he hides in a raspberry tart!

Extra Credit: after the “No Tigers” policy is revoked and all ends well, the duck becomes a world traveler, but no less crazy, in the beginning reader series of Dodsworth books.

The Altruist Duck:
Little Quack’s New Friend, by Lauren Child and Derek Anderson
A new guy hops into the pond and wants to play with the ducks. Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, and Puddle find all sorts of reasons why this isn’t going to work, but the littlest duckling, Little Quack, isn’t going to let that fly. Little Quack and his new frog friend show the others how easy it can be to get along, and soon everyone is splashing and hopping together.

The Adventurer Duck:
10 Little Rubber Ducks, by Eric Carle
Once upon a time, in 1992, thousands of rubber ducks (and turtles and beavers) bound from China fell overboard from their cargo ship and into the eastern Pacific Ocean and drifted around the world, washing ashore in Canada and the United States. For the factual account, read Moby-Duck, by Donovan Hohn. For the fantasized account, read this beautifully illustrated counting book, which you will be relieved to know stops far short of 28,800.

The Helpful Duck:
Duck to the Rescue, by John Himmelman
Ernie, a well-intentioned duck, does his best to solve all the problems on the farm. Like many toddlers, he truly wants to help, but often ends up needing rescuing himself. With clever illustrations and few words, this fast-paced story comes alive through the pictures.

The Informative Duck:
Just Ducks, by Nicola Davies and Salvatore Rubbino
A young girl lives in a town with a river running through it, and her every waking hour is filled with the quacking of local waterfowl. My toddler would beg us to move there if we knew where that was. One can’t help but learn things while reading this sweet book, and it’s completely painless! Also, I used to want to open a shop called “Just Ducks.” That’s a particularly useless fact, and you’ll pick up much better ones (about dabbling and upending, for example) by reading this book.

Point. Click. Quack! Who are your favorite picture book ducks?

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