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Seven Diving Ducks by Margaret Friskey

Seven Diving Ducks (1940)

by Margaret Friskey

Other authors: Jean W. Morey (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Summary: This book is about a family of ducks who are on a quest to learn to dive, with their parents. Father Duck is a bit of a task-master, in particular, towards one timid duck, who is struggling to learn to dive. He eventually learns to dive, with the help of a well-timed, falling apple, but endures a few harsh words from his stern father.

Personal Reaction: We actually HAVE this book! We have the original 1940's publication. My husband found it in an old bookstore and bought it for our daughter. We read it to her numerous times. Yes, there are NUMEROUS online reviews that skewer this book because of it's negativity and abuse and the father's overt harshness. I find it humorous because I am able to view it in a different light. This was 1940. It was the Depression Era. This was a rural setting, albeit anamorphism. The word "sissy" wasn't the dirty word it is today. Yes, the father says, "There'll be no sissies in MY family" but what the reviews fail to mention is at the end of the story, the father's true motivation is to toughen up his young son, to get him to dive, so he can be self-sufficient and provide for himself, as he transitions from duckling to duck. I just see it differently. And again, the vernacular of the day was different, and this was not highly offensive, at the time.

Classroom Extensions: I might read this book. I'm a little bit uneasy about the word sissy but I think I could simply say, "Now, this book was written a long time ago. We wouldn't use that word anymore, would we?" I could just explain that many, many years ago, Farmer Ducks used to talk like that but we've learned that some words aren't nice words anymore.

Classroom Extensions: We could play Duck Duck Goose to decide who could help read along with the book.
  Dowrox | Jul 10, 2016 |
What IS it with all these persecuted little ducklings in children's literature?!? From Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale, The Ugly Duckling, in which the anatine hero is kicked out of the nest by his own mother, because he doesn't look like her other hatchlings, to Harvey Fierstein's The Sissy Duckling, a recent picture-book offering featuring a young fowl who prefers baking to baseball, and must contend with his father's disapproval as a result, it seems that, in the world of kids books, there is no shortage of ducks in hot water!

Margaret Friskey's Seven Diving Ducks - a picture-book first published in 1940, and reprinted a number of times (1965, 1973) with different illustrations - is another, less well-known example, and follows the story of an unfortunate timid seventh duck, whose difficulty swimming and diving almost cause him to be disowned by his father. "I won't have any sissies in my family," said Father Duck sternly. "You might just as well go and live with the chickens if you can't learn to swim." The threat of being sent away from the family is actually fulfilled, in the course of the story, although a fortunate (or is it?) accident obviates the need, in the end, for any separation.

This book really is terrible - almost laughably so! - and I couldn't help wondering, in the course of reading, whether Harvey Feirstein had the misfortune to read it, in his childhood, thus prompting his contemporary retelling, in which a "Sissy" Duckling becomes the hero. The artwork, done in my (1940) edition by Lucia Patton, is simply adorable (hence the two stars, rather than one), but that only made the bullying behavior of Father Duck - whose youngest offspring, after all, was trying to do what he wanted - seem all the more appalling. A fascinating companion piece, to these other stories of ducks who are different, Seven Diving Ducks is a book I would recommend primarily to scholars researching the history of children's literature, and the depiction of gender and parenting therein. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 22, 2013 |
spanking! lol
  humanaevitae | Jan 13, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Margaret Friskeyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Morey, Jean W.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Patton, LuciaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A timely accident helps a little duck conquer his fear of swimming and diving.
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