Review Blog

Sep 21 2009

The duck in the gun by Joy Cowley

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The Duck in the Gun by Joy Cowley, Walker Books, 2009. IBSN 9781921150838. (Ages:5-7) Joy Cowley first wrote this book at the height of the Vietnam War, promoting an idea of peace in those distressing times. First published in 1969, this is a timely reprinting of a timeless book. The General has marched with his men to the outskirts of the town they are to besiege, but on bringing up the large cannon, find that a duck has built a nest and laid her eggs in it. Amazed, the General tries to startle the duck from the gun, calling to her, then deciding that he must call a truce with the Prime Minister of the nearby town. Polishing his boots and wearing his medals, he visits the Prime Minister and after some discussion, they agree to halt proceedings for three weeks to allow the duck to leave the gun. During the ensuing time, the General visits the Prime Minister to have tea with him and his daughter while the soldiers, noticing that the town looks a little shabby, offer to paint the houses. When the duck begins to look out form the gun, the General helps her and the eight ducklings down to the ground, but the men grumble that they cannot fire upon the town that they have just painted, while the General agrees that he has become quite fond of the Prime Minister's daughter. Robyn Belton's wonderful illustrations add another layer of charm to this anti war story, chosen as one of the top ten children's books around the world by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, to actively promote peace. Although aimed at junior primary, it could be used at any year level.
Fran Knight

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