Gertie: The Darling Duck of WWII by Shari Swanson, illustrated by Renee Graef

Gertie, The Darling Duck of WWII by Shari Swanson, illustrated by Renee Graef. Sleeping Bear Press, 2023. 9781534111714 

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

Format: Hardcover non-fiction picture book

What did you like about the book? In April of 1945, in a world weary of war, a duck shows up in Milwaukee and decides to lay her eggs on a tall post in the Milwaukee River next to a drawbridge! It doesn’t take long for her to gain a following, a large following, wondering just how safe a place this is for her to raise a family.  It turns out that it isn’t very safe!  As the five eggs begin to hatch, one chick falls down into the river and is rescued by the bridge tenders.  As the other four eggs hatch a huge storm arises.  The chicks are rescued and brought inside – but where is Mom, Gertie, as she has been named?  Fortunately she, too, is rescued, reunited with her chicks.  Police, boy-scouts and locals guard the well-being of the ducks. Thousands of people come to watch Gertie and her chicks as they grow.  The news travels world-wide giving hope to the soldiers fighting the war.

A more heartwarming story would be hard to find! The illustrations by Renee Graef might look familiar as she illustrated the Little House books! These are done in pencil, in soft colors depicting the world of 1945. Back pages provide photographs of Gertie and the times in which she lived. “And Gertie has taken our minds off some of the ugly things around her; she even helps us forget, for a few minutes, the horrible bungle that man has made of the world.”

Anything you did not like about the book?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book? A lovely, warm story to share with children – of all ages, especially those who like ones that really happened like James Herriot’s Treasury for Children.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries, lower elementary grade libraries and nursery schools

Where would you shelve it? E 598.4

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Contributor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:  March 23, 2023

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Animals, Ducks, History, Renee Graef, Shari Swanson, World War II and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.