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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Duck, Death, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch

DuckDeathTulipWe’re killing two birds with one stone this week (pun reluctantly intended). A reader suggested today’s book a long time ago. Add in the fact that it’s October and we should be doing some Halloween-themed titles and you’ve got yourself today’s latest edition of International Classic Picture Books. Take a trip to Germany to visit one of the loveliest, softest books about life and death out there. Maybe it’s not classic Halloween fare, but I like it.

By the way, it may amuse you to know that while I was fearful to read this book to my 7-year-old daughter, unbeknownst to me I’d just left the darn thing lying about so she read it without me. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your preferred method of podcast selection.


Source Notes:

– In case you weren’t quite sure what I was talking about, this is the video of the weatherman’s map going crazy:

– I would like to reiterate that we will never ever do this book on the show. Not for the wide wide world.


– There really are countless videos about today’s book. Here are some of the standouts:

First, the quiet animated short film:

Next, a trailer for a rather lovely version that played in Edinburgh:

And finally, I’ll be rather honest here. I’m not sure what country this version is from:

– Death has no socks.


– By the way, the translation of this, the Gecko Press edition published in 2011, was done by Catherine Chidgey. Bravo, Ms. Chidgey.

– I just love this image of Duck surprised. I wouldn’t mind a shirt of this.


– Honestly, I’m sure Mr. Erlbruch knows perfectly well how to draw digits and is doing mittens for other reasons. Still funny, though.


– Here is one example of the very beautiful, etched wallpaper tree.


– The one-page crow.


– The sudden change in the background.


– Oh, the fox went out on a chilly night . . .


– The Romper article in question was called Why Duck, Death and the Tulip Is a Cult Favorite Among Authors.

– Meanwhile the Brain Pickings article was Duck, Death and the Tulip: An Uncommonly Tender Illustrated Meditation On the Cycle of Life.

– Like gentle picture books about death? Try the following!



I’m honestly surprised I got its Danish nation of origin correct.



Betsy Recommends: White Knight by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth. A quick correction to what I said on the podcast, though. The Joker actually runs for Councilman, not Mayor.


Kate Recommends: CoriTaylorMN on Etsy where, as Kate says, you can find stupid comfy clothing like this swell little Octumnal offering:


Kate, if you want to buy this for me, I won’t say no to you.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Answering a question from the podcast, German genders its nouns masculine, feminine, and neuter – so in German, a duck (die Ente) is female by default, and death (der Tod) is male.

    The grief picture books I read to my son (then five) when the need arose for non-pet, non-grandparent books about death were And What Comes After a Thousand? by Annette Bley (yes, another one from Germany, and even with humans) and Always and Forever by Alan Durant, illustrated by Debi Gliori (animals again), both reviewed on my blog here:

    I also had Ox-Cart Man and the Fox Went out on a Chilly Night as a child and thought they were too boring to read…

  2. P.S. – thanks for another great podcast!

  3. Lauren Martino says

    In terms of at least “not horrendous” American picture books about death- what about the Fall of Freddie the Leaf? Ok, it’s not even about animals- it’s about a leaf. Perhaps a bit of a cop out. But thoughtful, and beloved by at least a few children’s librarians.

    Also, the version of Duck, Death, and the Tulip from the unknown country- I’d guess Polish just from the crazy number of accents.