On Duck Pond
Issue: March 15, 2017
Yolen, Jane (Author) , Marstall, Bob (Illustrator)
Apr 2017. 32 p. Cornell Lab/Persnickety, hardcover, $15.95. (9781943645220).
When a flock of ducks descends on a quiet pond, their raucous calls startle the other animals, who scatter. The turtle dives into the water, while the frog leaps off his lily pad and the heron flies to her nest. A boy observes the scene, watching as the ducks move on, the rippling waters go still again, and the other animals return. As he walks homeward, “An understanding quickly dawned: / We’d shared a shock, and now a bond. / And I was feeling very fond, / Of everyone on old Duck Pond.” Written with simplicity and subtle sensory cues, Yolen’s poem establishes a strong sense of place as well as a mood that shifts with the arrival and departure of the ducks. An expressive painter, Marstall contributes a series of scenes that define the landscape and its inhabitants with subtlety, grace, and humor. Even after the animals have scattered to hide, a few are visible in the illustrations for children to find. A sequel to Yolen and Marstall’s On Bird Hill (2016), this picture book reflects a solid understanding of the natural world. Both the words and the illustrations are well crafted, but together they become something more: a beautiful picture book that is unexpectedly moving.
— Carolyn Phelan