Sunday, November 4, 2012

30 Days of Picture Books - Duck, Duck, Goose by Tad Hills

It's Day 4 of Picture Book Month and it seems like time to think about lessons. We all learn about the world in a variety of ways, most of which are firsthand experiences but some of which are based on what we glean through other channels. We learn by watching others, by listening to our parents (or not, as the case may be), and of course by reading. Picture books teach us about the sphere we live in as well as those far away or even those of imagination. And when we visit those imaginary realms, we often bring back knowledge that helps us when we face a similar situation in "real life".

For the youngest readers picture books provide the building blocks of things like color and shape. For slightly older kiddos, life lessons are coming into play. Suddenly the focus becomes not basic concepts like opposites and ABCs, but basic relationship skills like getting along with others and taking your turn. By modeling situations your kids will encounter at school or with friends, picture books provide opportunities to role play and think through difficult scenarios.

Duck, Duck, Goose by Tad Hills is a title that's great for talking about the friendship dynamic. We're fans of Duck and Goose around these parts. I think we got through the board book Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin approximately 6,000 times in the first autumn and winter Sprout was in our family (luckily it's a pretty fun read).

In this episode of their ongoing adventures, a new face enters the picture: a small grayish duck aptly named Thistle. She's a prickly sort, too, the best at everything -- if you don't believe it, just ask her. Goose very quickly feels left out of Duck and Thistle's adventures, especially since Thistle just wants to best Goose in every contest she can think of. Disheartened, Goose heads off for some quiet time, and Duck realizes just how much he misses his very best friend. Soon the two are reconciled, and they find a way to let Thistle have her way -- even while they do the things they two like best.

Tad Hills just gets kids, which you quickly discover by reading one of his excellent titles. Kids and adults alike will be charmed by his perfectly adorable characters, and then they'll discover how much Hills has to teach readers, about the nature of friendship, about getting along with others, about the simple pleasure of kicking a ball around a meadow.

And those are the kinds of lessons we could all use, couldn't we?

Duck, Duck, Goose by Tad Hills, published by Schwartz & Wade Books

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