Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feeling Sad

Feeling Sad is a book my daughter chose herself last year from our local book shop, Berkelouw. Usually she prevaricates so I don't know if the cover grabbed her or if she was indeed feeling sad.

We read it again this week and it seemed apt, given the sad times we live in.

The book, by Sarah Verroken, a graphic designer, plays on the theme of the need we all have for colour in our lives.

This book tells the story of a duck who is sad because his world is black and white. The soft little red friend (who looks like a cross between a jelly bean baby and a gingerbread man) he holds is called Dudley.

For some reason this image of black rain and a tiny pointless leaf shelter really made me think of the terrible situation the Haitians are facing today.

Duck is not prepared to put up with an entirely unsatisfactory black and white world. Would you? He goes exploring and eventually page by page the sun comes out and colour comes to his world.

The illustrations in this book are so textural and interesting. I assume some kind of woodblock or lino cut technique has been used.

I don't know what it is about ducks and children's books. I have a number of duck based children's books which are pretty glum. It's true they generally come good at the end, but they so often have a sad overtone. And yet you never see a depressing book about a sad pig who lives in a black and white world or can't walk or has no family do you?

To demonstrate the point, I present Exhibit 1:

This famous story is about Ping the Duck who lives happily on the Yangtse River until one day he is captured by fisherman. Not just any fisherman. The ones who put metal rings around the birds (cormorants, I think) they keep on the river and force them to dive for fish (the rings stop them swallowing the fish). When I was little this was my first introduction to boats called junks, and cruelty to animals.

Exhibit 2 is a book about a wooden duck with a pole through his back who lives on a merry-go-round. All this duck wants is to fly and that wooden pole is an obvious impediment.

He then meets a real baby duck whom he raises himself. One day the baby duck grows up and leaves the wooden duck. The wooden duck is sad, and things only get better when the real duck returns to give wooden duck a real ride in the sky. Then the baby duck leaves again for good. But merry-go-round duck is happy, as his one dream (to fly) has been fulfilled.

Exhibit 3 - the Sissy Duckling is about a duck who would rather do so called girly things like baking, puppet shows and playing quietly. He is mercilessly teased for this. I know that many people would agree that this is the book to buy if your son is remotely 'different'.

And finally, for just plain out weirdness, you cannot go past Dr Suess' I wish that I had Duck Feet.
For me, if I could have any animal bit attached to me it certainly would not be duck feet. It would be feathery wings. Or even sharp talons. .....


Mise said...

I was captivated by the images you posted from 'Feeling Sad' so went to Amazon just now to see whether I could buy it for my daughters (but secretly for me). I'm feeling a bit sad myself now at how many books came up in my search with 'Feeling Sad' in the title.

Mise said...

And, by the way, if anyone else is looking for the book, my local Amazon doesn't have it but the Book Depository online does.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

HI Jane
Well you know what they say about ducks....
Cute images... xx Julie

Ange said...

Like water off a duck's back ;-)

James XVI said...

Ducky number three is probably also a blogger.

I hope you won't mind that I have tagged you for a Kreativ Blogger award on my most recent post. I received it from Borjana at Green and Stylish, and pass it on to 7 bloggers I admire.


Unknown said...

What a great post Jane.

I have never heard of the first book, I must look out for it. Beautiful illustrations.

Childrens author Michael Rosen wrote a wonderful book called the "Sad Book"....if sadness issues etc were what you were looking for's hard to know sometimes what attracts children to a particular book isn't it?

We've read the story of "Ping" and I love the sound of "The Sissy Duckling"!!

I think I will buy the first book you mentioned actually, it really does sound lovely.

Have a lovely day!

Simone :)

Unknown said...

PS I LOVE what you did with the gold frames and the papers....fabulous!!

Laughed about your gold hands/can't breathe experience...that would be me too!

Nice work :)

Laura said...

Well that is one Dr. Seuss I have never heard of! That first book you mention looks wonderful...those illustrations are just lovely. Makes me want to be four again!

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

I love children's books about ducks as they are not the obvious choice of animal for a children's book.
Thanks for showing us these books and, thanks to Mise, I now know where to buy them when I need a present for a little one. XXXX

JMW said...

I have not heard of "Feeling Sad," but I'll have to look for it. It certainly has a good message, doesn't it? You're right about some of the oddball duck books, although my children love the classic "Make Way for Ducklings" which fortunately is a sweet story.

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Oh Jane we all need a little colour in our world!

Aussie New Yorker said...

And don't forget Jemima Puddle Duck! My favorite Beatrix Potter character. I vaguely remember darkness in her world as well. Something to do with a fox - but with a happy ending!

Anonymous said...

Where do you find allll these books? When ever you write about one it makes me want to go to

Anyway...your comment made me laugh (the one of the painting, year ago???). And I think I need to go to Melbourne. It sounds like my kind of people (wearing black)..hihi

Have a wonderful day dear Jane, XXX

Chelsea Van Tol said...

cute books, i bet my son would love some of these

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