Remember Gator by Randy Cecil from Candlewick? Let me tell you what happened when I shared Duck by Randy Cecil with Kdg. I needed to take advantage of spring and rainy weather, so I pulled together some quick resources on ducks for kindergartners to study. Beyond our nonfiction exploration, I wanted to play with different types of books – counting, classic award-winners, and deep-thinking, above-your-head picture books.
Enter in the book Duck by Randy Cecil. Duck is a wooden carousel animal that dreams of flying. One night when he leaves the carousel to explore he discovers a baby duck called Duckling. They laugh together, play together, and try to learn to fly together by practicing jumping and flapping. Predict what will happen when Duckling’s feathers turn from fuzzy yellow to white and he sees a flock of wild ducks migrating.
When I read that Duck chose to release his scarf, freeing Duckling to fly up up up, while Duck plummets down, down, down, my listeners were spellbound. All breaths were held while Duck suffered through a long winter with snow so deep he almost disappeared. You’ll have to read the book to see what happens in spring.
After sharing this story and while the students were giving me their usual ratings with thumbs up, thumbs down, or wavering fingers close to their bodies, one student suddenly blurted out, "But this book was sad in the middle!"
Hooray! An opportunity with kindergartners to discuss how most stories have plots with beginning, middle, and end’s. Good stories have problems to solve and get us involved so we care about the characters. Good stories surprise us. Good stories sometimes have happy endings where we all take a happy breath (sigh). Students gasp when I whisper that sometimes stories don’t have happy endings, but they become important to us and we read them again & again.
Okay, relax readers, there IS a happy ending here. You are as bad as my students. We had to go back to "savor" this book with our favorite words and phrases. One little girl said she "knew" the story better the second time because then she knew what was real and what was pretend. Two students tried to change the story midway by warning Duckling that Duck would fall and he should stay on the ground with him to prevent Duck from being sad and alone. They really cared about that Duck!
continued in part 2