Molly the Mallard Duck
by Karen J. Tapp
Trafford Publishing

"One day, Kathy was weeding around the bushes. To her surprise, the bushes started to move!"

This adorable children’s book is a true story about a woman named Kathy who discovers a mallard duck nesting outside her home. After naming the duck Molly, Kathy takes on the task of protecting and caring for her new friend. Kathy learns about mallard ducks through trial, error, and the assistance of wildlife rescuers who set her on the right path for helping the bird. One fateful night, after Molly’s ducklings hatch, a cat attacks the nest, and Kathy runs to the ducks’ aid. Though Molly’s fierce quacks drive off the cat, the ducklings fall into a sewer grate on the way back to their nest. Fortunately, as always, Kathy is there to help. With the assistance of the police and the fire department, two of Molly’s three ducklings return to their mother, but the third one is harder to rescue. By the time a police officer frees the last duckling, Molly has already taken her two others away to safety and cannot be found. Kathy spends a night caring for the little fowl and sets out the next day to find Molly and return the duckling.

The author recounts this charming story of her sister’s duck rescue in great detail while keeping excellent pacing for young children’s attention spans. Kathy’s desire to help the ducks is admirable and exemplary for young ones, as is the implication that just because a person wants to help wildlife does not mean they know what to do. Kathy fences in Molly to protect her but soon realizes that Molly is not eating, so she calls wildlife rescuers for advice. The rescuers point out that the fence is more likely harming Molly than helping, and both Kathy and the author’s young readers learn an important lesson about checking with experts before interfering with wildlife.

The illustrations work beautifully with the narrative. The scenery and animals are rendered true to life, allowing children to learn about mallard ducks’ appearance and behaviors. The human characters are drawn in a more whimsical style, adding to some of the text’s humor and drama. A particularly humorous scene, aided by its illustration, occurs when Kathy brings the duckling home in the middle of the night. She nestles it in the pillows of her bed without disturbing her sleeping husband, who is shocked at their early morning wake-up call in the form of a hungry duckling’s insistent “peeps.” The drama and suspense of the third duckling’s difficult rescue are thrilling but gently softened for young readers by the illustration showing that the duckling is safe in a sewer pipe despite being missing.

The fact that this book contains descriptions and images of animals and emergency vehicles makes it appeal to a wide range of children. The narrative and pictures recall Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, with a similarly compelling story and a happy ending. While young independent readers may find some of the vocabulary challenging, toddlers through early elementary children alike can enjoy it read aloud. Kathy and Molly’s tale is exciting, enchanting, and all the more interesting because it is true.

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