Written by Meg McKinlay
Illustrated by Leila Rudge
Walker Books Australia, 2010; Candlewick US, 2012
“A duck?” Melanie pulled her feet up onto her chair. “You can’t have a class duck.”
Mrs Melvino raised her eyebrows. “Really?” she said. “And yet here he is.”
Abby’s class has a duck named Max who waddles and quacks and sits on your feet, making them warm with feathery breathing.
Even though Max is a duck with demands — from an ideal aquatic environment to fresh strawberries — Abby might get to take him home overnight, if she can make everything perfect. And Abby is sure she can do it. The problem is, weird Noah from next door wants to take Max home, too. Abby can hear him digging on his side of the fence, but she knows he’ll never get Max. A duck needs calm, and what can Noah do about his chaotic backyard and noisy sisters?
Splashed with charming illustrations and brimming with humor and heart, this story of best-laid plans and unexpected cooperation is one that every kid will relate to.
What would you do to take care of the class duck for a day? A genuine, warm, and witty tale of determination and unlikely friendship.
What Readers Are Saying:
‘Never has the duck been so lovingly rendered in contemporary literature.
Roll over, Ping.’
– Georgia Richter, Writer, Editor, Publisher
‘A delightful story of sharing and working together, this book is a charming response to a scenario often seen in primary classrooms. The joy of the class pet is reflected in the wonderful illustrations and the whole book is joyous to read … This is a wonderful book, rich and multilayered, one which would be a fabulous read aloud in a primary school, if it is on the shelf long enough for a teacher to find.’
– Fran Knight, ReadPlus
‘A perfect tale for emerging readers.’
– Lamont Books
“Fun, quirky and with a great sense of humour … head and shoulders above many adult books!”
– My Book Corner
- Shortlisted, Children’s Book Council of Australia, Younger Readers Book of the Year 2011
- Shortlisted, Younger Readers Category, West Australian Young Readers Book Awards 2014
- Shortlisted, Lower Primary Category, Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2011
A sequel to this book, Definitely No Ducks, was published in 2013.
Behind the Story
This story had its beginnings in an interview I saw with the cartoonist Michael Leunig, who draws lots of ducks, or possibly the same duck lots of times. In any case, he is a duck-lover and I’ve loved his work, and his ducks, since I was very little. In the interview (with Andrew Denton), he talked about things like the importance of having an “inner duck” and uttered the memorable line “I think a nation is in trouble that cannot accept a duck” and also participated in this brilliant, succinct exchange:
Denton: Were ducks part of your childhood?
Leunig: Of course, yes.
So I was thinking about ducks and what it would be like to accept the presence of a duck in your life as natural, and slowly a duck character began to form in my head. One day, the lines “The duck was different. The duck had demands” came to me and I knew I had the very beginnings of a story. Of course, that’s where the work starts – I had no sense of where the story would be set, or who else would be in it, or what would happen. But I had the duck, and a kind of feel for his personality, and that was enough at that point for me to set off on the road to wherever I was going to end up, which turned out to be this book.
It’s also possible that I was influenced by the neighbourhood I live in. My house is a block away from a large park with a lake at its centre. We’re often visited by ducks and, from some of the yard decorations, it seems others are too. With all these duckish things around, I guess it’s no surprise that one should find its way into a story.