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Duck’s Backyard

Authored by Ulrich Hub (translated by Helena Kirkby)
Illustrated by Jorg Muhle
Published by Gecko Press

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Duck’s Backyard: A nervous duck with a wonky leg prefers to limp around her backyard rather than venture into the outside world, which she’s heard is a dangerous place. But when a blind chicken stumbles into her backyard, she is persuaded to take a risk and embark on a journey seeking the, ‘place where all our secret wishes come true.’ Soon this unlikely pair find themselves in a dark forest and then traversing a cavernous gorge and a steep mountain. It’s a good job they have each other for support!

As the author tells us, ‘Every journey begins with a single step’ and as Duck points out towards the end of the book, ‘Those who travel change’. You could say that both characters go on much more than a physical journey, as they learn something about themselves and each other across the course of this delightful, illustrated chapter book. Both Duck and the chicken are beautifully crafted characters, whose personalities are perfectly expressed in their bickering dialogue, something which is sure to entertain young readers. ‘I go around spreading sunshine’, declares the chicken, whilst it seems Duck is simply ‘Damp as a dishrag’. The clever use of language is supported by simple illustrations which capture their relationship, with the key moments in the action portrayed with more than a little humour.

This endearing tale of friendship would be a welcome addition to any KS2 classroom and a great read-aloud. On the one level, it can be enjoyed purely for its narrative and humour but there is also plenty of mileage in considering the philosophical debates that Duck and the chicken engage in. A book that is definitely worth revisiting, as successive reads may lead to a deeper level of understanding and reflection.