Sunday Afternoon Visits: March 11
Quick Hits

Fix-It Duck: Jez Alborough

I requested a copy of Kane/Miller's new board book edition of Jez Alborough's Fix-It Duck because I simply loved Alborough's Hug (which is also a favorite of some kids I know in Lexington, MA). And now I love Fix-It Duck, too. A short, rhyming story, this would make an excellent read-aloud for younger kids.

Duck is sitting in his living room on a rainy day when a drop of water drips into his tea cup. He immediately launches into "Fix-It Duck" mode, setting out to repair the roof. But he doesn't have a ladder, so he sets out to borrow one from his friend Sheep. Sheep mentions that the window in his own roof (Sheep lives in a camper) leaks, and Fix-It Duck is on the job again. The reader rapidly figures out that Fix-It Duck, while well-intentioned, is an uncoordinated and accident-prone menace. But the thing about Duck is that he never gives up when things don't go as planned. He just makes a new plan, and keeps on going. For example, here's when he "fixes" Sheep's window:

He does what he can to close up the gap.
He glues it, screws it and gives it a tap.
(SMASH - picture of broken window)
"The problem," says Duck, "is your glass is too thin."
"My house," wails Sheep. "The rain's coming in!"
"What we need," says Duck, with a glint in his eye,
"is to pull your house to somewhere dry."

And things get more out of control from there, with an added, funny twist revealed at the end.

I found the text in this book quite catchy. It reads like a song. I was making lunch immediately after reading it, and kept hearing "This is a job for ... Fix-It Duck" repeating in my head, in a cheerful sort of way. The illustrations are exuberant and whimsical, with enough attention to detail to reward repeat readings. For instance, the amiable Duck drinks his tea out of a smiley-face mug, while the house-proud Sheep has a vase of colorful flowers in his window, and serves tea in flower-printed mugs. Duck also has a "DUCK1" vanity plate on his car, and a little duck-shaped hood ornament. Mostly, though, what comes across from the deft illustrations are the personalities of the characters, cheerfully clueless Duck, justifiably nervous Sheep, wary Goat, and shy little Frog, who makes an appearance in the end.

The board book edition is sturdy, but in a larger format, with thinner pages, than  many board books. It's an excellent addition to the set of available board book titles. The colors are bright (despite the rain falling on every page), and I expect the book to hold up well to repeat readings. This book is sure to be a hit with the early pre-school crowd. Personally, I'll be keeping an eye out for Duck's other adventures.

Book: Fix-It Duck
Author: Jez Alborough
Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers (U.S. board book edition)
Original Publication Date: 2002 (2007 for U.S. board book edition)
Pages: 16
Age Range: 1-4
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.