–"What's that pecking? Tap, Tap, Tap!/Eggs start splitting. Crack, crack, crack./Mama paces up and back./Waddle, waddle, quack, quack, quack." So begins the adventurous first day of five new ducklings as they explore the big world outside their eggs. Skalak uses simple but expressive language in rhyming couplets to describe the action: "Blue sky darkens, lightning flashes./Boom! Boom! Boom! Thunder crashes." When one of the ducklings gets lost during the storm, the author effectively deviates from the couplet pattern while he searches in a meadow for his mother. The text returns to its comfortable pace as soon as the little duck arrives safely back on the lake. Long's pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings add bright color and a realistic portrayal of animals and habitat to this charming story. The happy reunion between parent and child is pleasantly portrayed on a full spread that shows Mama and baby meeting in the middle. The siblings now follow their mother back to the nest as dusk falls, bringing their day to a close. Lively text accompanies richly detailed paintings in this reassuring story. Combine it with Nancy Tafuri's Have You Seen My Duckling? (HarperCollins, 1984) for a winning combination on being lost and found again.–Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY
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