Fix-It Duck (Kane/Miller Books, 2007)
Author: Jez Alborough
You know that moment of panic you have when you suddenly discover that a book you’ve grown quite fond of is out of print and you don’t own a copy of it?
I just had it. About – yes – this book.
My daughter, M(3yo), and I discovered Fix-It Duck at our library when she was about two-and-a-half. The cartoon-y illustration on the cover grabbed her attention, so we brought the book home. And when we sat down on our couch together and read it for the first time, we both loved it.
That book spent nine weeks in our house (the maximum check-out-plus-renewals) that time, and then another long stint here along with the other Jez Alborough Duck books that we could get our hands on a couple months (or weeks?) later. And this morning, more than half a year later, M(3yo) caught sight of the cover image as I started this blog post, and it took me a good solid few minutes of intervention to explain that, even if I were inclined to go out and get my hands on this book immediately, I couldn’t because the library is closed today.
I think we’ve all met someone like Fix-It Duck at some point in our lives – someone with a perpetually optimistic overestimation of his own abilities who seems to leave a trail of destruction in his wake. And who is cheerfully oblivious to the fact that he is the cause of the destruction, however anxious he is to help put it to rights. (This sounds, as I write it, suspiciously like many three-year-olds . . . )
On the particular day on which the book takes place, “Plop! goes the drip that drops in the cup. Duck looks down and duck looks up . . .” and discovers that his ceiling is leaking. His decision to fix the leak himself results in all sorts of mayhem involving his three loyal friends, sheep, goat, and frog, a flat tire, a broken window, and a very waterlogged trailer.
The illustrations are done in a panel layout that varies from page to page. The format allows Alborough to show much more of the action of the story (and believe me, there’s action!) than he would have been able to otherwise. I wondered if it would be hard for my daughter to follow, but she didn’t seem to have any difficulty with it.
The fun for the child is chiefly in the hilarious illustrations and the bouncing text; the additional fun for the adult reader (or older child) is in the details of the illustrations – the details that indicate that the successive catastrophes might not just be a particularly bad case of “bad luck.”
Fix-It Duck is only one of a slew of “Duck” books by Jez Alborough, including Duck in the Truck (the first “Duck” book); Captain Duck; Hit the Ball, Duck; Duck’s Key: Where Can It Be? (a lift-the-flap book and another favorite of my daughter); Super Duck; and Duck to the Rescue.