April 22, 2012

Duck and Goose: How Are You Feeling?

Duck and Goose: How Are You Feeling?
By Tad Hills; illus. by author
0-4 Preschool Schwartz & Wade 22 pp.
978-0375846298 Board $6.99
Non Fiction

Duck and Goose: How Are You Feeling? is the third installment of Tad Hills's popular Duck and Goose series. This time, the duo is back in board book form to address the subject of feelings. Unlike the previous two Duck and Goose books (Duck and Goose and Duck, Duck, Goose), How Are You Feeling? does not feature a plot. Rather, each page contains a one-word feeling ("selfish", "angry", "happy") and an illustration modeling that emotion. It's a well-used conceit and one that mostly works here. I say mostly because, though effective with concrete emotions like "scared" (Duck and Goose huddled together in the dark during a thunderstorm), it is less effective with abstract emotions like "hopeful" (Duck and Goose staring at a tiny green plant with their bills open, presumably watching it grow). Toddlers will undoubtedly recognize feelings like "happy", "frustrated" and "sad", all of which Duck and Goose model well, but emotions like "hopeful" and "selfish" may be slightly beyond their conceptual reach. That said, there's no harm in introducing the concepts and using the pictures to talk about them.

Though Duck and Goose, being water fowl, have a limited repertoire of facial expressions, Hills  illustrates them in such a way that they manage to communicate a wide variety of feelings. He also uses the trick of making the environment mirror the featured emotion, ("sad" features a cloudy day, "happy" has sunshine and butterflies), providing the reader with even more context - especially helpful for toddlers just learning to recognize and name emotions. It also serves as a nice beginning reader for preschoolers, as sight words, ("sad" and "happy") appear with challenging words, ("loving") and all are paired with illustrations designed to interpret the words. Overall, Duck and Goose: How Are You Feeling? is a friendly introduction to the complicated territory of feelings and one that will likely appeal.

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