FICTION

Quack

Albert Whitman. Apr. 2020. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807567067.
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Gr 3-7–Teachers and librarians looking for a great title for social-emotional learning need look no further than this endearing and humorous novel written from four points of view. Fifth grader Shady is the main character and is selectively mute. Most of the narrative heavy lifting is done by Pouya, his best/only friend and his sister, Manda. She is the only person to whom Shady actually speaks. Pouya understands him perfectly though, “He talks all the time. Just not with words.” Pearl, Shady’s former best friend turned nemesis, provides the fourth perspective. Shady and Pouya rescue some baby ducks after school one day and inadvertently bring one home. The mother duck rejects the duckling when they attempt to reunite them, and it turns out the duckling, now named Svenrietta, has already bonded with Shady. She calms him down and becomes his therapy animal, so Shady gets to bring her to school, much to Pearl’s dismay. The school setting and a variety of social situations are well portrayed, as are the effects each might have on a young person with an anxiety disorder. While Shady has a supportive family and one good friend, Svenrietta helps Shady’s classmates understand and appreciate his uniqueness.
VERDICT With discussions around anxiety disorders on the rise in elementary schools, this windows/mirror story is an excellent addition to youth literature collections, and should be well received.

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