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Michael Bedard has received world-wide acclaim for his humerous and allegorical paintings featuring his now famous duck characters. His most well-known poster, Sitting Ducks, ranks among the top-selling and most widely recognized images in the history of this medium. Born in Windsor, Canada, Michael now resides with his family in Topanga, a small rural community outside of Los Angeles. Michael Bedard has received world-wide acclaim for his humerous and allegorical paintings featuring his now famous duck characters. His most well-known poster, Sitting Ducks, ranks among the top-selling and most widely recognized images in the history of this medium. Born in Windsor, Canada, Michael now resides with his family in Topanga, a small rural community outside of Los Angeles.
Bedard pits the iconic, yellow-billed white ducks featured in his posters against a carnivorous world in this alligator-y allegory. At first, the waterfowl don't seem to have a prayer. They hatch on a conveyor belt in a vast alligator-run factory, then their predators ship them off to Ducktown, where friendly placards encourage them to "Eat a Lot" and "Fatten Up." (Bedard doesn't specify how the victims vanish from their seeming utopia, but alligator restaurants proudly serve duck soup.) Things change after a soft-hearted alligator adopts a duck and lets his pet in on a secret that could save Ducktown: physically fit birds can fly to freedom. Bedard, who styles his unlikely pair as soul mates, practices the same understatement seen in Tim Egan's Friday Night at Hodges' Cafe. His story can be read as a comment on Big Brother, vegetarianism or star-crossed lovers; his dry wit is such that the duck wanders into a "Decoy Cafe" modeled after Hopper's Nighthawks. Regardless, the narrative is primarily a vehicle for the crisp, mechanical artwork. Bedard uses clean, clear colors, hard edges and pebbled surfaces to construct his smooth-feathered, identical ducks and pudgy, Gumby-green gators. The strongest personality belongs to the anonymous alligator hero, who quells his hankering for his friend the duck by "dreaming about chicken." All ages. (Oct.)
Gr 1-3-Bedard's picture book features the same whimsical ducks that appear in his posters. Here, he presents a world inhabited only by white, yellow-billed ducks and wide-eyed alligators. Birds are incubated and hatched in the Colossal Duck Factory, and their eventual destination is the alligators' stomachs. One day, an egg unexpectedly falls off the conveyor belt, and the rudely hatched full-sized duck is spirited out of the factory by a hungry worker. Of course, the reptile has only stuffed poultry on his mind, but the merry antics of the little fellow turn his heart toward friendship. Eventually, the fowl learns that all of the others of his kind spend their days in Ducktown where they "eat and eat until they grow so fat they can't fly away." He mobilizes the flock with the truth (in the form of a menu from The Decoy Cafe) and everyone flies south to safety. (The birds use their wings while the alligator boards a plane.) Unfortunately, skillfully rendered, comically appealing artwork just isn't enough to carry an artificially contrived story line that contains occasional lapses of logic. The characters are charming but unconvincing. Perhaps there's hidden meaning here that adult fans of Bedard will recognize, but it's also very likely that the picture-book audience won't be interested.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools
"Funny and poignant." --Children's Literature"This appealing book with its cast of near-irresistible ducks and only mildly menacing alligators is sure to please young readers. Bedard's sprightly illustrations make the work seem like an animated cartoon between picture book covers." --Parents Choice