Days of the Ducklings
McMillan, Bruce. 2001. Days of the
ducklings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN: 0618048782.
McMillan's photo essay documents the story of Drifa and the eider
ducklings she is raising on Hvallatur Island, Iceland. Once natives to
Hvallatur, the eider duck population has dwindled. New owners of the
island, including Drifa's father, have been awarded a license by
Iceland's Ministry of the Environment to reestablish the eider duck on
this island. The photos and text record Drifa's experiences as she
acclimates the ducklings to their new world.
McMillan's text conveys this simple story in a conversational tone that
explains both actions and the reasons behind them, such as "The
ducklings swim the way they walk, first one foot forward and then the
other. Their webbed feet push them through the water. They dive below
the surface of the water and peck at the bottom. Instinct guides them."
(McMillan, p.19) Although Drifa is not quoted in the book, McMillan
seems to know her well and speak for her, such as when he states, "As
much as she wants to, Drifa resists patting them. Though she loves each
and every duckling, she can't let them become too attached to her. She
has also resisted picking up and carrying strays during their daily
trips to the cove. Instead, she builds a walkway to help them find
their own way." (McMillan, p.20)
McMillan's stunning photos of this event are the main focal point of
this book. They cover the majority of each double-page spread and allow
the reader to feel as if he/she could step onto that island 75 miles
south of the Arctic Circle. He photographs Drifa, the ducklings, and
their happenings from every angle and distance, and the photos draw the
reader into the text. Although a simple glance through this book might
make some photos such as a mass of ducklings around a feeder seem
mundane, the text and photos work well together to tell every aspect of
The final page of this book includes pictures off different types of
eider ducks, a close-up photograph of eider down, a four paragraph
passage giving scientific information about the ducks, and a selected
bibliography. There is also a note on the cataloging-in-publication
page that lists all parties that made the book possible.
In her review, Callaghan summed up this book by stating, "A winning
look at the wonder of the common eider, the splendor of Iceland, and
the resourcefulness of one child." This book will capture children's
imagination as they look at pictures of this far away land and cheer
for Drifa as she works with these adorable ducklings.
Callaghan, Anne Chapman. 2001. Days of the ducklings (book review). School Library Journal 47(9). In
EBSCOHost (database online). Available
from http://search.epnet.com/login.asp. Accessed 11 April 2005.
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