Definitely No Ducks

Written by Meg McKinlay
Illustrated by Leila Rudge

Walker Books Australia, 2013
Ages 5-9


Max, the class duck, is in trouble.
The Antarctica display has been totally destroyed. Ripped. Torn, Chewed.
And everyone knows Max is to blame.

Or is he?

Abby and Noah are determined to uncover the truth. If they can’t, they will have to say goodbye to Max forever.


What Readers Are Saying:

‘Leila Rudge’s gorgeous pencil illustrations beautifully round out another fabulously fun tale from the talented McKinlay.’
Kids Book Review

‘McKinlay is a master storyteller, somehow finding the perfect balance between what kids genuinely WANT to read, and what adults recommend as fine literature.’
– Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook

Definitely No Ducks! is as compassionately quirky as its predecessor … This is a delightful little offering which will appeal to readers ages six and up,  and would be perfect for sharing in a classroom setting.’
– Sally Murphy, Aussie Reviews



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Duck for a Day, a companion book also featuring Max, Abby and Noah, was published in 2010


Behind the Story

When I finished writing Duck for a Day, I was reluctant to leave the characters behind. I knew there was more fun to be had with Max, and I had a great affection for Noah and wanted to write a story with him at the centre. However it too me a long time to work out what that story was going to be.

When I started writing Definitely No Ducks, I knew something bad was going to happen and Max was going to be blamed for it. I wasn’t completely sure whether he would be partly responsible, or entirely unfairly blamed. And I didn’t know exactly what the bad thing was going to be. I considered having him distract the kids when they were getting ready for an important text (NAPLAN, anyone?). But I decided that no one wants to read about the NAPLAN, tests are boring in general, and I wasn’t sure how I’d make things exciting when the main action was ‘distraction’.

Then I thought that perhaps, as is often the case, the school had a vegetable patch that the kids were involved in looking after. And perhaps they were growing something important for a particular reason. And of course, free-range vegetables would be irresistible to a free-range duck.

But somehow that option didn’t seem terribly ripe with potential either.

I didn’t really know which way to go. And what I tend to do at that point is just scribble stuff down. I was working on the vegie patch idea, planning out chapters without any real enthusiasm, when I started writing … or maybe not vegies? maybe something gets wrecked, something someone had done, took them a long time, very special diorama or something – Noah? kept it safe from his sisters only to have Max damage it? Or maybe a class effort … a project for a special occasion so it matters beyond the class, matters to the school/principal? Principal sees it/someone reports it.

So that’s where it started, really. I left the NAPLAN and the vegies behind and threw the principal stumbling and tumbling into Max’s water basin. That’s when I knew I might have a story with legs.