Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck.
Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck written by Judith Meyrick illustrated by Richard Rudnicki Nimbus Publishing, 2007 978-1-55109-645 (pb) $10.95 for SK to Grade 3
Children love feeding ducks at the park. So how can we get across the message that feeding wild animals isn't necessarily a good idea? Enter, with a loud quack, Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck. Only the message that the charismatic fictional waterfowl wants to communicate is "feed the ducks." When she discovers that a new sign instructs park visitors to refrain from giving handouts, Gracie performs a little graffiti. However, the Man in the Black Suit and other visitors are not fooled by the altered "please do feed the ducks" sign. Eventually Gracie, and by extension the readers, realizes that the park pond and grounds have enough healthy snacks "and that she probably wouldn't starve after all."
Gracie waddles saucily through the enchanted floral wonderland of Halifax, Nova Scotia's Public Gardens. Her textual and visual creators are both Haligonians working on their first picture books. Freelance writer Judith Meyrick writes humorously and descriptively, finding a number of ways to capture Gracie's plaintive and insistent squawks. Visual artist Richard Rudnicki recently won the Lillian Sheppard Award for Excellence in Illustration for this book. Through Rudnicki's artwork, characters such as the moustached, up-beat looking Man in the Black Suit, become memorable. Gracie, butt-up and stuffed into a garbage bin, will get hoots from the story time crowd.
The lesson for classroom studies on food chains and urban environments could have been made even stronger with a note at the back of the book. As a storybook, Gracie is a charmer.
Iian goodall is an Ontario-based children's author and book reviewer who has a passion for Nova Scotia.