The Great Duck Book Review
GET YE TO COMIC-CON!
Just another reminder that if you're planning on attending the San Diego Comic-Con you should definitely take time out from your wallscroll purchasing to stop by booth 5033, where you will find Mr. Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka and the Mega64 gang hanging out, selling merchandise, and putting on an entertaining show.
Read Lowtax's stirring press release, which he wrote under the impression that he actually qualifies for public relations to find our more exciting details!
And now, today's update:
Recently we've opened up a "Comment Box" on the Something Awful Forums. I often refer to things Something Awful does as we despite the fact that I didn't really do anything. I just wanted to feel like I belong...
Anyway, most comments range from, "DAMN MODS BAN TOO MANY PEOPLE UGH!" to "DAMN MODS DON'T BAN ENOUGH PEOPLE UGH!!!" and "Yo, can we get an RSS podcast feed for my cell phone so I can check the forums when I'm stuck in my closet crying from depression? Surprisingly I can get a signal in there." Come on Radium, when are you going to implement this? I can't keep sending in comments forever!
But the number one request SA receives on a daily basis goes a little something like this:
I love SA. You guys have it all. Fast cars, fast money, fast women, etc. I love all the features you guys do but there's one thing missing, reviews of books about ducks! So there I am babysitting my baby mama's sister's cousins when they start whining for duck books. I'm all, holy shit, I don't know which duck books are any good! SA, please help! These kids are gnawing at my foot!
Okay, tags closed. Good. Lowtax won't have a reason to beat me this week. Funny that you mention that my friend. We've gotten countless comments like yours just sitting in the comment vault waiting to be put into the recycle bin never to be seen again. That's why we're going to unveil an exciting new front page feature today due to popular demand. It's The Great Duck Book Review!
Read along as we review the latest and greatest duck books to hit store shelves. Marvel at the fact that a grown man went to the library and checked out every duck book he could find in the children's section and think of all the kids who will be crying when they ask their parents for duck books and they are told some idiot checked them all out.
Duck & Goose
Author: Tad Hills
Publisher: schwartz & wade books
Duck & Goose is a brutally honest look at the ever growing racial tension between ducks and geese. Tad Hills paints a picture of two avian species unwilling to work together for the greater good, only causing utter turmoil for both.
The story begins on a sweltering summer day as two birds, a duck and a goose, find an egg in a field. They inevitably end up arguing over who owns the egg. Duck says that the bird that saw it first claims ownership while the goose argues that the one who touches it first owns the egg. Actually, in my experience the one who smuggles it across state lines in his rectum is the rightful owner, but I digress.
They continue to struggle over who owns the egg and what they are going to do once it finally hatches. Duck wants to teach the bird to quack like a duck. Goose wants to kill it and eat it.
The heat makes people do some crazy things. Suddenly they get into a fight. Out of no where a little blue bird appears and throws a trash can at the egg, shattering it. Out spills a premature baby bird that takes one breath and dies a painful death. The two birds stand there awestruck and reflect on how truly fragile life is.
No doubt inspired by the Spike Lee classic "Do The Right Thing", Hills delves deep into the racial turmoil to reveal a scenario that could only lead to tragedy. Rather than work together to meet their goals of eating the bird inside, duck and goose's petty squabbles result in no one getting the yummy egg. But wait, there's a twist! The egg is actually a ball. What? You think such horrifying nonsense would be in a children's book? What's wrong with you?
Tad Hills also authored the insightful book Duck & Dog, in which a duck engages in a deadly affair with his best dog friend's bitch. He returns in top form with Duck & Goose.
Authors: Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury
Publisher: Candlewick Press
We have seen much of Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury's very public and messy divorce in the tabloids, leading to accusations that Oxenbury attempted to run over her ex-husband with the Porsche he bought for her that she alleges he cut the brake line on. Some have expressed concerns that this may have affected their newest book Farmer Duck. You may now rest easy because Waddell and Oxenbury's latest outing is every bit as good as their first book Mr. Duck the Cheating Bastard Duck and His Bitch Wife Quackina.
Farmer Duck tells the tale of a duck who is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore. Inspired by a true story, duck works on a farm owned by a lazy farmer who sleeps all day and writes for a web site. Duck is left to do all the chores on the entire farm. The other animals see this and it breaks their heart. They conspire together to kill the farmer and free duck. What happens next will shock you which I won't spoil here. But I will spoil it here.
Farmer Duck asks the question, is it okay to murder a man in order to save a duck, one who may be living in harsh conditions but is not in immediate danger? Parents and children alike will ponder these tough issues as they read Farmer Duck. When my mom read the book to me last night before bedtime I asked her, "Why didn't all the other animals just help duck do the chores instead of killing the guy?" I mean seriously, duck does all the work while the other animals just sit there and watch. If they had just helped him he wouldn't be so tired and sore.
While Farmer Duck is confusing it's still a thrilling read. Unfortunately it seems like it's the last effort from this talented but ultimately tragic married team of authors.
Goodnight, My Duckling
Author: Nancy Tafuri
Publisher: Scholastic Press New York
When Nancy Tafuri spoke at last year's Duckcon she was booed out of the room. It's isn't surprising considering the countless plagiarism scandals that hit her in the last few years. It is widely believed in the duck industry that Tafuri is nothing but a rip off artist, taking other books and simply inserting silly ducks. Her latest offering Goodnight, My Duckling clinches those beliefs.
Goodnight, My Duckling reads as if it were blatantly lifted from Goodnight Moon. It's time for baby duck to go to sleep and all the pond animals say goodnight to him. Tafuri attempts to intersperse some excitement into the story by having the duckling get lost. Luckily a turtle saves him and gives him a ride to the nest on his shell. The duckling eventually falls asleep.
The story has all the makings of a classic, if only that classic wasn't already written 49 years ago! Buyer beware! I hope the Governer's Board of Ducks doesn't ask Tafuri to speak again at next year's Duckcon, but the board is so full of corrupt ducks I wouldn't be surprised if they were taking quackbacks. Shameful.
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! With Special Guest Star: Duckling!
Author: Mo Willems
Publisher: Hyperion Books
The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog! is a fascinating read that delivers what it promises. In it a pigeon comes across a hot dog and flips the hell out. He tries to eat it but unfortunately a meddling little duckling makes it hard for him to do just that. The duckling has an inquisitive mind and incessantly asks questions about the hot dog.
His underlying motive? To get a piece of the hot dog. His strategy is to frustrate the pigeon so much that he can't eat the whole thing. The idea is that he'll eventually give up half of the hotdog to get the duck to shut up so he'll be able to eat the half he still has.
One thing I found unnerving is the prevailing myth that ducks are scam artists. Not so. I have never seen a duck act in the way this duck did in the book. It simply doesn't happen. Ducks are an honorable bird who would never trick a hapless pigeon like this. I suspect the author is a pigeon loyalist who wants to paint ducks in a bad light.
Those concerns aside, the book has some great dialogue. Reminiscent of the classic television show "Seinfeld", duck and pigeon speak with fluidity and believability. They talk just like me and my friends talk when we hang out. Bravo to Mo Willems, even if he is a pigeon loyalist. I wouldn't mind seeing "mo'" of Willems in the future.
Author: Mary Ann McDonald
Publisher: The Child's World, Inc.
Ducks, aptly named for its subject matter, is Mary Ann McDonald's seminal work. Inside readers will be delighted by full color images of ducks and various facts about them. Unfortunately it was written in 1998 and is already a bit outdated. The world of ducks moves forward at a fantastic speed and Ducks is simply missing many of the things we have learned about ducks in the past few years. Here's an example of what I'm talking about.
Ducks can't chew their food, because they don't have any teeth. Instead, they swallow sand of small stones they find on the ground. These little stones are called grit. The grit sits in a special stomach called a gizzard. When the duck eats, the food goes to the gizzard first. The grit in the gizzard grinds the food into tiny pieces.
This is just flat out wrong. Yes, at one time ducks did swallow grit, but that was during the Great Depression when food was hard to digest because of the failing economy. Ducks mainly ate government celery which was hard to process. As the economy recovered ducks returned their gizzards to Fry's for a full refund.
She misses other well-known duck facts as well. Scientists discovered that ducks are the only other animals other than humans who are monogamous but cheat on their mate which sometimes leads to bloody confrontations between scorned lovers involving firearms. Ducks have no natural predators. They are hunted occasionally for sport but ducks say this injects some danger and excitement into their lives. Ducks are an impatient bird and won't stand in line at the DMV. That's why they take advantage of time-saving appointments that can be arranged at your local DMV's web site.
Ducks won't teach you anything you don't already know about ducks. McDonald misses many of the nuances that makes ducks so wild and crazy. She didn't do her homework on this one. I would recommend picking it up only if you have to have every duck book out there. Collectors enjoy.
Writing children's books is the easiest thing you could do in life. All you have to do is think of a funny animal, like a duck, and put it in something that rhymes, like a truck. And then duck runs over a ton of people at the farmer's market and the city takes his license away. You don't even have to draw it. Get Shmorky to draw it. You'd only have to pay him in Nintendo cartridges.
The bottom line is that duck books are making a comeback. They are flying off the shelves at a record-setting pace. It's about time someone like me stepped up to tell you which books blow and which ones are quacktastic.
Tune in next time when we review "Duck In The Muck", "Duck Meets Friar Tuck", and "Duck Likes to Fuck". Goodnight everybody!