Last week I wrote a review of Janette Oke’s memorable children’s book, Ducktails, and today I’d like to introduce you to this same story, edited to be appropriate for younger readers. All of Oke’s Classic Children’s Story series were edited and republished as the series Animal Friends. The publisher suggests children ages 6-10 would enjoy reading this book, but I read it aloud to my daughters when they were just 4, and they enjoyed it very much. This younger version of the book is much shorter, with many chapters only 3-4 pages long. It also replaces Brenda Mann’s lovely black and white drawings with full color illustrations by Nancy Munger, catching the young child’s eye and helping to bring the story to life in his imagination.
Although the main story line remains much the same, there are some important differences between this version and the original which make this one a better choice for families with very young children. The benefit of reading about a likable character’s struggle to choose obedience is still here, but rewritten in such a way as to remove the tragedy found in the older edition. The narration and descriptions have also been edited to make this book easier for even the youngest listener to follow. My daughters especially enjoyed the emphasis on the young ducklings’ attempts to learn basic life skills and the humorous mishaps that happened along the way. At age four, they were able to easily enjoy 1-2 chapters of the book read aloud each day, and the questions of character and choices that appeared offered us some wonderful opportunities to discuss the wisdom of trusting mom and dad’s judgement rather than ignoring it. It’s a great choice when beginning to introduce young children to chapter books, and a good option for a young reader who may not be ready to read through the much longer older version.