Slinking through the grass with panache, Duck believes he is a cat, just like his friend Cat. Or, at the very least, he will be when he grows up. But when Duck tries to follow Cat up a tree, his lack of claws (and general lack of catness) becomes sadly apparent. Trying to find a game they can play together, Cat accidentally jumps off the dock, lands in the water and is quickly transformed into a miserable, soaking mess. Duck has no claws and no cat ears, but his webbed feet may save the day.
Carin Bramsen’s masterful second book starring Duck and Cat, after Hey, Duck!, is the perfect mix of cute story and gentle lesson. Bright, welcoming illustrations—from the big blue sky, the sturdy red barn, even the softness of the fur and feathers—construct a friendly, comfortable world. Children are given permission to dream big while reinforcing the idea that we all have strengths and weaknesses.
Bramsen uses simple, rhyming dialogue to engage young listeners and to provide that soothing, rolling rhythm that is essential for nighttime and calm time. Duck and Cat’s words appear in different fonts, which is helpful when sharing read-aloud turns with beginning readers.
Two double-page spreads (Duck’s tree-climbing attempt and Cat’s water rescue) are completely wordless, which allows the reader full sound-effect interpretation and lets Bramsen’s illustrations stand alone. Duck’s sweet, wide-eyed expressions make these scenes truly charming.
Adorable baby animal stories are always hard to resist, but Just a Duck? ups its value with a lesson: The best of friends are made when each has a unique chance to shine.