The Duck and the Darklings by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King is a beautiful book that had me entirely enthralled. I was captivated by its use of language and the stunning design.
The Duck and the Darklings tells the story of Peterboy and Grandpapa who live underground in a community of Darklings. They live underground because the world above them has been ruined and destroyed. Everyone but Grandpapa has forgotten what the earth had once been like. One day, when Peterboy is searching in the finding fields he comes across an Idaduck. He takes her back to Grandpapa who heals her wings but cannot stop her wanderlust. The Idaduck reminds Grandpapa of what the earth used to be and he tells stories of the long-ago. But his tales can’t stop her longing and instead they decide to throw a ‘fine and fitting fare-thee-well’ for Idaduck. They dance and sing until night ends and, to their surprise, the sun rises and they see the start of the most wondrous day.
The language is filled with idiom and childlike imagination and is brilliantly reminiscent of traditional oral storytelling. It has a beautiful rhythm that lends itself to reading aloud.
‘Over heaps and hummocks of lost and lonely things they clambered, gathering fiddlesticks for firewood, filling billies with trickle and seeking crumbs of comfort to take home.’
‘There are holes in the dark, Grandpapa, and light leaks through! It slides down the steeps, puddles in the deeps and glimmers on the trickle.’
The illustration and design is fantastic. Brilliant use of dark and light, line and colour and gorgeous multicoloured typeface. This is a wonderful example of the text and the illustration working together to create more than the sum of their parts.
Full of touching relationships, gentle wonder and hope, The Duck and the Darklings celebrates the power of stories and imagination and the importance of memories and hope. It is also a fantastic book to use with children who are learning about the environment and climate change. It opens up some interesting questions without being didactic.
I can’t tell you how delicious this book is! But I can tell you that you can order a copy through Hive here.
Source- kindly sent for review by Allen & Unwin Books