Written and Illustrated by William Joyce
Kack Kack spent all her time sitting on her beloved egg. Bently was lonely. “I haven’t a friend in the world,” he said sadly to himself.
The plot in a nutshell: A frog babysits a duck’s egg
When Kack Kack the duck wants to go look at her friend’s baby ducklings, Bently agrees to keep an eye on her egg. After a while, he decides the egg is boring as it is, so he paints colorful patterns on it. Pleased with its new look, he sings it a song. Then a passing boy finds the egg and, assuming it’s an Easter egg, runs away with it. Bently vows to save it and follows after the boy. He meets a stuffed elephant who was left in the yard. She points him in the direction of the boy and Bently tells her he’ll send help. Bently pursues the egg into the boy’s house, where he leaves him a note that he’s taking the egg (and that the boy’s elephant is in the garden). On his way out of the house, Bently meets a nice girl who is too sick for the Easter Egg hunt so he paints her a picture of an egg.
After a couple more adventures, Bently arrives home with the egg still safe. His decoration has washed off, but he loves it all the same. Exhausted, he falls asleep and wakes to discover the egg has broken. At first he is upset, but then the cracks continue and a baby duckling emerges. Kack Kack names him Ben, after Bently, having heard the story of how he saved the egg. Bently sings about the three of them and how they are the best of friends.
Author/illustrator William Joyce gives us another story with an extraordinary amount of depth. Bently’s adventures have a profound effect on him and the readers get to take that journey with him and see the resulting changes at the end. At the end of the book, you can see that he has developed a strong attachment to the egg and a whole new attitude toward Kack Kack and her new duckling. He has also developed other friendships along the way, simply by doing his best to take care of the worthy people he meets along the way. In a note in the front of the book, Mr. Joyce states that he wrote this book when he and his wife were expecting their first child and that it changed into more than he was planning it to be.
The illustrations are lovely, with lots of springtime shades of yellow and green. Bently is drawn as so thin and long in the torso that I thought he was a cricket when I saw his picture on the cover. His thin body contrasts nicely with the larger animals and people he encounters, always making him seem somewhat vulnerable, which just further highlights the strength of his character when he overcomes the obstacles that get in his way. As the story is set during Easter, this would make a nice book to read during that season.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there are very few limits to how far we are willing to go to protect the ones we have grown to love.