by Renee Heiss
illustrated by Matthew B. Holcomb
Back Cover: When Mama Duck asks her ducklings to arrange themselves from One to Ten, the baby ducks learn much more than sequencing skills. In Ducklings in a Row, ten unique duckling personalities combine to gorm a humorous look at ordinal numbers and at the art of getting along with others.
First Sentence: Around the lake ten ducklings swam with tired feet and eyes.
Mama Duck has ten little ducklings in her charge, each known by a number one to through ten. When it had become time for “ducky lullabies,” Mama Duck told the ducklings to arrange themselves from one to ten. From there they would find their nest and be sung to sleep. Duckling 10 scooted to the front of the line, tired of always being last and wanting to be the leader, at least occasionally. Duckling 1 was rude. He told duckling ten that he was first and ten was last . . . and slow. Duckling 10 knew that sometimes you must wait your turn to lead, so he graciously backed up.
Duckling 9 reaches Mama Duck next. He saw a spot open behind duckling one and figured he was done. This lining up continued until all ten ducklings lined up: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. Duckling 10 was furious.
“Why does it have to be,
that One is always in the lead,
the back reserved for me?”
Then Mama Duck said to duckling ten, “If I tell you how this ends, I will spoil the story for you!” Okay, Mama Duck . . . she did not . . . um, say her line, exactly as quoted. Actually, Mama Duck refused to quack for this review, so I do not know what she said to all those ducklings. I do know that each one of those little peepers sported a specific personality trait while finding their place in line.
One, not necessarily Duckling 1, was rude, while another quacked loudly. A couple of ducklings showed off their individualism and a third duckling, the smallest and most insecure, tried to stand unnoticed in a sibling’s shadow. One duckling, uncertain where she should stand, stood looking down at the ground. The aggressive duckling fluffed herself to look big and shoved in front of the ignorant duckling that had no idea where she should stand. Duckling 10, introduced above, exhibited a patient personality that evening.
When I first read this, I was not completely impressed. These yellow ducklings, with a number somewhere about their eye, waddled over to Mama Duck. How is a child to learn how to count to ten if the ducklings are so out-of-order? Plus, the teacher’s guide is included in the back, making this a rather large picture book. How odd. So what if the guide is only three pages long? I say make those teachers go to your website!
Let me explain. I am suddenly tired and an ache has popped into my skull, playing games with my right-sided brain. Two aspirins later, and . . . Ducklings in a Row is a giggler. Children, who know how to count, whether to five or fifteen, will adore this book.
One child will possess attitude and yell, “You get back by 10 Duckling 9!”
Another will state, as a matter-of-fact, “Duck 2—
“They are ducklings, dear,” said Mom.
“Fine! Duck-LING 2 is LOUD! Screaming at Duck, Duck-ling 8 is mean.”
What great dialogue between the adult and child. Now, Ducklings in a Row has become a counting book of attitudes and getting along with others. I get it now. What a wonderful idea. The ending will have you laughing and thinking ‘what a great way to end this,’ and you never saw it coming, not from me. I didn’t guess it, and I, too, smiled when I read the ending, and thought, ‘what a great way to end this.’
The illustrations are functional. Yellow ducklings, all numbered, waddling around the pages, giving off attitude, some playing fair, and a few trying to blend in. The page is a solid color and changes hue with each turn of the page. Some of the numbers are difficult to discern, but kids will remember which is which in time. All of the ducklings are lined up 1 to 10, ready for little fingers to point and count them out.
As mentioned, a teacher’s guide is in the back. The author has included questions to help children think critically; the personality each duckling exhibited and exactly how they exhibited that personality; important vocabulary words from the story; and links to other activities and resources. Ms. Heiss also included a link to a charity called Adopt a Duck.
Children learning to count, or those who have learned to count to at least ten, will adore Ducklings in a Row. The intended age is for four to nine. I think kids younger are also good candidates for this book. The book is a definitely for teachers, because not only is the teacher’s guide always at hand, but because learning to count can involve more than rote learning. We learn through all our senses and, the more involved, the better and faster we learn. Fun helps, too. Ducklings in a Row is certainly a fun book. It also involves the senses of touch, hearing, and seeing. The best way to correct a bad behavior, or get a child to see that behavior, is to show it to them in a safe, non-threatening way. “Which duckling are you?”
by Renee Heiss website blog Facebook illustrated by Matthew B. Holcomb bio Character Publishing website Released on December 31, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-9839355-3-7 36 pages Ages: 4 to 9
Copyright © 2011 by Character Publlishing, used with permission. Text: copyright © 2011 by Renee Heiss Illustrations: copyright © 2011 by Matthew B. Holcomb