<B>Rubber Ducky, you're the one</B> Author and illustrator Eric Carle has received numerous accolades over the years, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his lifetime contributions to children's literature. Who doesn't know and love <I>The Very Hungry Caterpillar</I>, after all, and many other books from this talented author? Carle is an absolute master at making a simple story heartwarming and visually compelling, especially for young preschoolers. He has done it again with <B>10 Little Rubber Ducks</B>, a picture book based on actual events. He was inspired by a 1992 news clipping of a shipment of 29,000 rubber bathtub toys that fell overboard from a container ship. The debris spread far and wide, from Alaska to the Atlantic. The title page of <B>10 Little Rubber Ducks</B> sets the stage with a view of 10 numbered cutouts of the ducks, and then the story begins, with the toys rolling through the factory assembly line, being painted, packed up and finally loaded onto a cargo ship. Alas, a storm hits the ship and sends the box into the sea, causing the captain to shout: "10 rubber ducks overboard!" The ducks float in many directions, one going with a dolphin, another with a seal, another with a polar bear, one with a flamingo and so on. The 10th duck finally meets a family of ducks and blends right in, except for the fact that he squeaks instead of quacks. Carle's signature collages are beautifully vivid, filled with ocean greens, blues, oranges, and of course, rubber ducky yellow. The faces on each animal the ducks meet are simple, yet full of emotion, which is part of the reason Carle's books are so appealing to all, especially the very young. They're also applauded by weary parents at the end of the day because they're substantial stories, yet blessedly short.

In this latest bedtime treat, all will be soothed by the closing spread of the duck family resting cozily underneath the stars and a bright full moon. Just make sure you have a rubber duck of your own, because little readers are sure to want to start playing with one after hearing Carle's tale. <I>Alice Cary stays afloat in Groton, Massachusetts.</I>

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