Waddell, Martin. Farmer Duck: 25th Anniversary Edition. Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick, 1991/2017. [40p.]. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-8918-6.
Other than a one-page note at the front, this 25th anniversary edition of Waddell’s Farmer Duck has no other special features. No “making of” essay, no reproductions of initial drafts of the artwork, etc. Although this is a storytime favorite, most libraries will not need this edition, unless they need replacement copies for the original.
Farmer Duck is a humorous look at the working class (the animals) and how they rise up against their oppressor (the lazy farmer). Younger children will understand that we should all share chores, while parents and some older children will understand the political message. The artwork by Helen Oxenbury helps younger children embrace the book, with the depiction of realistic animals.
Although many prefer Waddell’s Owl Babies if we had to choose just one of his books to use at storytime, Farmer Duck has repetition (“How goes the work?”) and animal sounds that promotes audience participation. Although this edition doesn’t contain anything new, the book itself is a must-have for libraries.
Penny Peck, San Jose State University iSchool