Written and Illustrated by Nancy Tafuri
Greenwillow Books, 1984
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Early one morning…
The plot in a nutshell: A duck wanders away from his mother
Mother Duck swims over to the nest where her babies are waiting, but one of the ducklings is missing. Together, they all go searching for the missing duckling. Mother Duck asks some other birds, a turtle, a beaver and a fish. Finally, she hears the little one quacking and turns to see him swimming back to her. Reunited, they all return to the nest and fall asleep.
Author/illustrator Nancy Tafuri got the inspiration for this book from seeing a pair of mallards and their babies in a pond near her Connecticut home. There is very little text in this book (just the opening phrase and the repeated title question) so the pictures convey the full story, making this book a great choice for very young kids. In truth, the missing duckling is never really far away from his mom and can always been found on every page, where he is simply exploring the pond.
Until this book, Ms. Tafuri’s illustrations had needed to be done as color overlay pre-separated art and this book was the first where she could do full watercolor paintings. In addition to looking for the missing duckling on every page, little ones can look for the butterflies who show up on many pages, as well as a few other pond animals. There’s not a lot to this one, but the simplicity of the story makes it easy for young children to follow along and enjoy.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that moms always sleep best when they know their little ones are safe and close.