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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Lovely Book Captures Small Drama on Duck Pond

On Duck Pond
Written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall
The Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2017

Jane Yolen and Bob Marstall have teamed up again for On Duck Pond, a sequel to On Bird Hill. Like its predecessor, it is a lovely, quiet book about the beauty and drama found in nature.

Again a boy and his dog take a walk, this time by a pond that is suddenly disturbed by the arrival of a noisy group of ducks.

Yolen uses rhyming couplets and a few triplets to tell her story in first-person narration. Though rhyming is difficult to do well, she does a masterful job of it, and the rhyme and alliteration enhance the story with fun word play.

“Down they splashed. The water splattered. /Then they chittered, whistled, chattered.”

The story is told in a symmetrical way beginning by telling who is disturbed by the ducks: trout and turtles, a frog, a heron, tadpoles, the water, and the boy narrator. Then the ducks move on and the pond grows still again. The wildlife returns, the heron, turtles, trout and fingerlings, tadpoles and the frog.

Finally, the boy senses this shared experience has bonded the wildlife and himself, and he walks home feeling “awfully fond of everyone on old Duck Pond.”

Marstall’s full-page pastel illustrations echo the quiet beauty and drama of the story. They include many kinds of ducks, birds and other wildlife that isn’t mentioned in the story.

At the end of the book, children can learn more about the different birds and animals. They are invited to go back and look for them in the story.

About the Author

Jane Yolen is the author of more than 350 books including the Caldecott-winning Owl Moon; You Nest Here with Me, co-authored with her daughter Heidi E. Y. Stemple; and the New York Times best-selling series How Do Dinosaurs ... Jane Yolen’s books have been translated into over 20 languages. She lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Visit her website at

About the Illustrator

Bob Marstall has illustrated nine nonfiction children’s books, including The Lady and the Spider which sold over a quarter million copies and was a Rainbow Room selection. He has also been honored with an ALA Notable award, an IRA Teachers’ Choice, a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children, and three John Burroughs selections. Two of his books were among the “1001 Best Books of the Twentieth Century” in the New York Times Parent’s Guide to the Best Books for Children, 3rd Edition. He lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Visit his website at

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Colorful Watercolor Illustrations Bring Magic to “Rain”

By Sam Usher
Templar, 2017

In “Rain,” the young boy narrator wakes up and can’t wait to go outside to play in the rain. He loves catching raindrops, splashing in puddles, and seeing everything upside down in reflections.

But Granddad says it is best to stay indoors, so the narrator reads and looks out the window watching the rain. It keeps raining and raining.

The boy tells Granddad he’d like to go on a voyage with sea monsters, but Granddad says, “Let’s just wait for the rain to stop.”

He keeps watching and waiting, but the rain doesn’t stop. Granddad is busy going through the mail, and writing. The boy reads books about adventure, and looks outside the window.

He tells Granddad he wants to visit the floating city with acrobats and carnivals and musical boatmen.

Finally, Granddad says, “Quick! Let’s go – I need to get this in the mail!” The boy looks out the window and the rain has stopped.

They go to the mailbox, but the boy imagines they’re on a boat and sees all the things he’s dreamed about in a wild, colorful adventure.

Back at home, they drink hot chocolate and warm up, and the boy hopes it rains again tomorrow.  

The story is simple, but the watercolor-washed ink drawings are magical. When the boy and his grandfather go outdoors, the wild, colorful spreads delightfully illustrate the narrator’s imagination. Young children will love it.

About the Author/Illustrator 

Sam Usher’s first book, Can You See Sassoon?, was long-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal and short-listed for the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize. Snow, the companion book to Rain, was long-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Usher lives in London.