Make your own free website on
Book Review Web Site
Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
Days of the Ducklings

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 this venture.

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  Accessed 11 April 2005.

Back to Module 5: Strategies for Sharing Nonfiction

All Materials for this Site created by:
Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University