Verdict: Maria’s Duck Tales – Wildlife Stories from my Garden is a delightful and informative, stirring set of tender and educational animal stories for nature lovers, young and old.
A collection of stories about the ducks that lived in the author’s backyard and taught her about Mother Nature’s hope and heartbreak.
Author Maria Daddino writes about her Penataquit Creek home and garden, which became a temporary home to many creatures. As the title states, many of the stories revolve around Daddino’s endearing duck visitors, like Peanuts and Patches her Muscovy ducks, and a tearful story about their encounter with a red fox. However, Daddino also opened her home to swans, ducks and geese, as observed ospreys and opossums. Her descriptions of the animals are vivid as well as educational, detailing habitats and behavior of the animals:
“What I didn’t know was that opossums shared their world with the dinosaurs
and that their babies are so small when they are born that twenty can fit into one
teaspoon, a discovery which made me realize that most of the members of my new
little opossum family were already teenagers!
The book, which includes elegant color pencil illustrations by Steve Ensign, begins with Daddino describing how she grew up in Brooklyn always had “a profound love for Mother Earth,” and was thrilled when she discovered her dream community “that cherished the bounty of the land and the opulence of its wildlife.” Here, Daddino began to work on her garden that would invite swans, geese and ducks that would become friends to Daddino and teach her about all the aspects of Mother Nature. As Daddino prepares her garden she gives the reader a hint that the changing seasons bring a foreboding of sadness:
“Nothing compares to the lushness of my summer garden, the fragrances of
oriental lilies and roses, the early morning dew on the grass, the sweet tastes of
vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and freshly-picked raspberries and the gentle
warmth that emanates from the soil.
The vivid oranges, yellows and browns of a fall woodland strike a chord deep
in my soul but, as I watch the falling leaves, I am overcome with a sense of sadness
as I think of the long, dark days ahead.”
Daddino manages to highlight the painful paradox of nature, the ups and downs of survival in her recounting of the stories of the ducks being preyed upon by the fox, and the ducklings getting lost in the storm:
“There is no more heartbreaking sight than that of a Muscovy mother looking for her babies
and not finding them. Peanut looked in all their favorite places, gently cooing and clucking
to them. Peanut came up to me pecking at my leg, practically begging me to join in the search.”
Daddino’s choice of names for her ducks is also quite entertaining – from Robert to Bianca to Lucky to names inspired by the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal: Hillary, Monica, Gennifer, Flower, Paula and Joansie.
Daddino’s closes her chronological story with a touching dedication in the epilogue to her beloved dog, Gypsy Blue. In this epilogue, Daddino’s voice, her love and connection for Gypsy Blue, animals, nature is especially apparent and moving, and makes for a powerful close to a gratifying read.
Maria’s Duck Tales – Wildlife Stories from my Garden is a delightful and informative, stirring set of tender and educational animal stories for nature lovers, young and old.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader.com 2012
Purchase Maria's Duck Tales from Amazon