300 Writing Prompts: #20

“You are a children’s book writer. Write the first few lines of your new book.” It was a stormy day in Montmartre when the Grosvenor triplets stepped off the bus and disappeared into the fog surrounding Paris in late afternoon. Trena thought it was the most beautiful dusk she had ever seen, even though the … Continue reading 300 Writing Prompts: #20

Why the Duck is an Ass

Too many people make the mistake of thinking that children’s books are all the same, that they preach a common theme and align themselves perfectly with what’s true and right, teaching kids the value of human nature and the beauty of our world. But our world is oftentimes not beautiful, and human nature is frequently negative and judgmental. So often we shield our children from these realities in favor of the cookie cutter “perfect world” we ourselves would desperately like to live in, hiding the rough spots as much as we can with spit and polish, not thinking about how shocking it will be to our kids when the truth comes out. And believe me, it will come out. Now, I’m not saying tell your kids everything about the cruel world and cruel people, but just having a heads up would suffice sometimes instead of a brick over the head. Some children’s books give that heads up while also teaching a lesson. Those are the kind I get for my kids.

IMG_0553Duck in the Truck is a children’s book written by Jez Alborough that I bought when I was in London. It appealed to me because of the cute picture of the duck driving a truck on the cover, but it proved itself to be a true compass for human nature as I sat in the huge comfy chair and read it over several times. Now, I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of using cute, cuddly animals to sell something. Hell, Disney was founded on it and still thrives to this day because of a mouse, a bear, and a sheer cadre of other wildlife. But what I found in this book wasn’t a straight morality tale like Disney is so fond of, but a story plainly told and illustrated that makes its adult readers think and might just confuse or amuse the younger readers.

It’s a tale of a duck who drives a truck down a lane, plain and simple. However, this duck loses control of his vehicle and it becomes stuck in a pretty nasty muck. Look at the duck’s face in the page pictured. Does he look like one of those pleasant animals I talked about above? No. In fact, he’s pretty pissed off, in my opinion, and probably ticked off mostly at himself for driving so recklessly. With the angle of the vehicle in the muck, it’s really a surprise to me that he didn’t fall out and do some serious damage to himself, so he should actually be thanking his lucky stars instead of being angry at the vehicle. Luckily for him he has some random strangers come by to try and help him get unstuck from the muck. Continue reading “Why the Duck is an Ass”