Written and Illustrated by Laura Rankin
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2006
One summer day, someone new waddled into Baron’s life. Her name was Fluffy.
The plot in a nutshell: A duck and German Shepherd become friends.
Baron is a German Shepherd who lives on a farm. Fluffy is a baby duck who befriends him, nibbling his food, bathing in the water dish and cuddling up to him to sleep. They become good friends and play together every day. Over the summer, Fluffy grows into an adult duck and they stay close all winter. When spring comes, Fluffy spots three wild ducks in the pond and goes to play with them, leaving Baron alone. She’s gone for several days and when she comes back, she’s too busy making a nest for her eggs to play with Baron. A month later, Fluffy brings her new ducklings to meet Baron. They play together and they share a happy dinner. Then Fluffy and the ducklings cuddle all around him and they all fall asleep together.
Author/illustrator Laura Rankin drew her inspiration for this book from her childhood pets, the real Baron and Fluffy, a German Shepherd and Pekin duck who truly were best friends. In the back of the book, Ms. Rankin includes a note with pictures of her younger self with her pets and lots of interesting facts about ducks. Of course, knowing that the book had its basis in a true story makes it more adorable and is likely to make it even more meaningful to young kids.
The artwork, in acrylic and ink, is lovely and does a wonderful job capturing Baron’s emotions as he struggles with the loss of Fluffy’s companionship. I love that we see Baron giving Fluffy the space to enjoy her new friends and being so happy when she returns with her new babies. Although he misses her, he wants her to be happy and that’s an admirable trait in any friend.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that life brings lots of changes but good friends can always find ways to stay close.