John Philip Duck

May 3, 2012

By Patricia Polacco

Edward Pembroke is a little African-American boy with big dreams of days when he can wear a shiny uniform and march to John Philip Sousa's music. For now, though, he's only a small-town farmboy who works with his father at the strictly-run Peabody Hotel. One day, Edward finds a small duckling at the edge of the bullrushes by the pond and convinces his parents to let him keep his newfound friend as a pet and bring him to work at the hotel.
"Well, I guess we could give it a try, but you have to keep him hidden or we could both lose our jobs," Pa said.
Find out what happens to Edward's pet, John Philip Duck, when the strict but fair manager of the hotel finds out his secret!

In America, teachers are big fans of read-alouds, and do them often, although it is different in South Africa as well as Canada. This is partly (or shall I say mainly?) due to the fact that in Canada and S. Africa, teachers expect you to be able to do this kind of reading individually. Yes, however, it is true; that kids everywhere enjoy a good story read-aloud. And Patricia Polacco book is super-duper suitable for this purpose alone, and it might appear that this book is for younger children, grades kindergarten through third.

But however fluently a child can read the words upon the pages of this and another, Chicken Sunday, he cannot decipher the deeper, hidden meaning of these seemingly few words. That will not come until later, unless the child in question is a precocious one.