Duck Days by Sara Leach, illustrated by Rebecca Bender

Duck Days by Sara Leach, illustrated by Rebecca Bender. Pajama Press, 2020. 9781772781489

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

 Genre: Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book?  Third grader Lauren is trying hard to follow her father’s advice and learn how to ‘go with the flow’ as she navigates school and friendship issues in this follow-up to Slug Days and Penguin Days.  Lauren is on the autism spectrum, and as she narrates her story, she describes what that means for her in easily understandable, kid-friendly terms.  She matter-of-factly explains to readers that she doesn’t like certain textures, such as sand, and that her ‘special helper teacher’ has cards that define what emotions are conveyed by different facial expressions.  She also employs certain strategies for keeping herself regulated; in particular, a square-breathing technique which readers of all ages could use.  

On a visit to her best friend Irma’s house, Lauren is dismayed to learn that Irma has befriended her neighbor Jonas; it is hard for Lauren to accept that Irma might have another friend besides her, and this causes her a bit of anxiety.  Lauren is also extremely nervous about an upcoming event at school; mountain bike instructors are coming to teach her class some tricks and skills.  Lauren can ride a bike, but she still uses training wheels, and she worries that kids in her class (particularly Dan, her nemesis from Slug Days) will make fun of her.  But with encouragement and support from her parents and Irma, and excellent advice from Jonas, who suggests that she act like a duck and let any mean words just roll off her back, Lauren learns the real meaning of bravery.

Readers will cheer for Lauren as she conquers her fears and makes new friends.  Short chapters and frequent illustrations make this an accessible book for elementary schoolers in grade 2 and up; an author’s note provides a little further insight into Autism Spectrum Disorder and celebrates the existence of caring adults and kind friends.

Anything you did not like about the book? No

 To whom would you recommend this book?  Anyone who has read the previous two books will enjoy Lauren’s latest outing (although it isn’t necessary to have read them to follow this one), as well as fans of series such as Ivy + Bean or Judy Moody. 

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Fiction

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 6/29/2021

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