Duck Days Reviews

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Cover: Duck Days Author: Sara Leach Illustrator: Rebecca Bender Publisher: Pajama Press

What did you like about the book? There’s so much I love about this book! Lauren is a relatable third grader who has a best friend Irma….Lauren also has autism, and regularly describes her feelings and reactions for the reader….All readers will be able to relate to her experiences navigating friendships, child stresses at school, and big emotions, and readers without autism will find many role models in the story for ways to connect with and support friends and family with autism without harping on it. Diversity is celebrated in the book – with Lauren, her friend Irma who is learning English, and supportive classmates with different skin colors. Black and white illustrations on most pages show both the events of the story as well as additional clues about characters’ emotions. The messages and theme of the story come across strongly even for young readers, but they are woven throughout the fantastic story to create an overall enjoyable reading experience.

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be an ideal read aloud for a class (probably 1st or 2nd grade). It would be great for adults to read with children (both on the autism spectrum and not) to support social emotional skills. I would also give it to kids who have read any of the picture books A Friend for Henry (Bailey), My Brother Charlie (Peete), All My Stripes (Rudolph), or Since We’re Friends (Shally) and are looking for something a bit longer, but are not ready for longer chapter books like Rain Reign (Martin) or A Boy Called Bat (Arnold)….

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our ‘to read’ piles? Yes”
Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

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Midwest Book Review

“The collaborative work author/storyteller Sara Leach and artist/illustrator Rebecca Bender, Duck Days is an honest and warm-hearted successor to their critically acclaimed Slug Days and Penguin Days. With its straightforward text and frequent black-and-white illustrations, Duck Days is a thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ and accessible chapter book suitable for young readers ages 7-10 — especially those with mountains of their own to climb! While wholeheartedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that Duck Days is also readily available in a digital book format.”

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Manhattan Book Review

“We rated this book: [5/5]…

Text: I think this book is amazing. I love that it is from first person, Lauren’s point of view, and how we can see how she processes things. It is so helpful for me as an adult, and I think also for kids on the spectrum (or not) to be able to understand how they process their emotions. I love how Irma and the teachers help Lauren, but also gently help her challenge herself.

Illustrations: I thought the pictures depicted the scenes perfectly, whether something was happening or whether Lauren was processing emotions. It adds to the text wonderfully.”
—Megan Walvoord

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Winnipeg Free Press

“From the author of the highly recommended Slug Days and Penguin Days, this early chapter book puts the reader squarely in the life of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder….Sara Leach is a teacher-librarian from Whistler, B.C., who has worked with students who share Lauren’s condition and has been able to help them cope. Rebecca Bender, who added the sensitive, homey black-and-white illustrations, lives in Burlington, Ont., and is best known for her award-winning Giraffe and Bird books.”

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Canadian Review of Materials

“This story hit close to home as I have two children very close to me with ASD. Duck Days is accurate when portraying the challenges for a child who has “dragonflies” in her tummy when faced with something new. Showing Lauren being hesitant to try new foods, activities and not being in charge will be relatable for the readers.

Although Duck Days might read as a Kindergarten-grade 4 level book, I think it could be used as a teaching tool for even higher grades to address differences and challenges for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD is a lifelong disorder. You cannot change the fact that a person has ASD, but support can significantly improve the ability of that person to be successful in all areas of her/his life. This support is referred to as intervention (Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) –

Having books like Duck Days available as a starting point for discussion with children who can relate and see themselves in Lauren’s behavior and thought process can only serve as essential tools for parents and teachers alike.

Shelly Quade, the Talent Lab Manager for the Whistler Film Festival, is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she helps train and promote Canadian storytellers from her remote office.

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The International Educator

Duck Days by Sara Leach is a novel for ages 7 – 11. Third grade student Lauren has Autism Spectrum Disorder and experiences some things a bit different from her friends….This book is part of a well written series for young kids on Autism and Asperger’s.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Author Sara Leach introduced young readers to Lauren, a young child living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, in Slug Days (2017) and Penguin Days (2018) and, with each new story we get to celebrate Lauren’s successes in developing coping strategies that give her the comfort to endure typical childhood situations from school to spending time with relatives to making new friends and keeping them. Though it’s evident that Lauren becomes uncomfortable with anything that detracts from her routines primarily as a result of her ASD, Sara Leach helps young readers see that anyone can use a little help when having a hard time. Most children do better with routines and the predictable and have worries about friendships and looking foolish. So while Sara Leach helps them understand some of the challenges faced by children with ASD, she also encourages them to find coping strategies, including visualization and focusing on breathing, to help get through uncomfortable or irregular circumstances.

Accompanied by the charming pencil and digitally-rendered artwork of Rebecca Bender whose illustrations have graced her own picture books like Giraffe and Bird Together Again and How Do You Feel?Duck Days will captivate early readers with both the familiarity and distinction of Lauren’s circumstances and recognize that being brave is in everyone.”

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Getting Kids Reading

Duck Days is a heart-warming chapter book for early readers. It’s the third in a series; the main character is Lauren, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. All of the books are lovely reads about friendship, perseverance and the challenges life brings to us all. In Duck Days, Lauren uses the concepts of ‘go with the flow’ and ‘water off a duck’s back’ to help her deal with last-minute changes to her plans….

I’m going to add that even if your young reader doesn’t have the same mountains to climb as Lauren, Duck Days and the other books in the series, are a good choice.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Sara Leach kindly and matter of factly shares Lauren’s journey with readers. We learn the challenges that Lauren faces everyday at home and school. Readers will also recognize the same challenges that we all face during childhood: navigating friendships, persevering against bullies, being brave and trying new things. Everything Lauren does in Duck Days is very relatable to all children but this story also fosters empathy in those who do not have ASD….

Books like Duck Days and the companion stories Slug Days and Penguin Days are important for your readers to access. It is through learning stories about people who may be different from ourselves that we learn empathy, compassion and the richness of the human experience. I love the illustrations by Rebecca Bender….

I really hope to see this series continue. I want to read more about Lauren’s journey through life and how she and her friends will approach the challenges that come their way.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“Lauren learns about what it means to be brave, and how she can have more than one friend. I like to see how Lauren grows from book to book and becomes more confident in her abilities and tackles new challenges with the help of her family, friends, and teachers. As always with this series, the illustrations show both the events of the story as well as Lauren’s feelings. The facial expressions really work well to show how she feels in different situations here.”

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Jill’s Book Blog

“I loved the Autism representation in this story. Lauren had a lot of visual techniques to help figure out the world around her….Lauren helped Irma with her English, which showed some representation of the immigrant experience. Irma had to go to school and learn a language that she wasn’t familiar with, but she had the courage to do it every day. Lauren would correct Irma’s language, but at least Irma was trying to speak, even when she got it wrong. They were both brave little girls. This is a great children’s book!”

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Youth Services Book Review

“Third grader Lauren is trying hard to follow her father’s advice and learn how to ‘go with the flow’ as she navigates school and friendship issues in this follow-up to Slug Days and Penguin Days.  Lauren is on the autism spectrum, and as she narrates her story, she describes what that means for her in easily understandable, kid-friendly terms.

Readers will cheer for Lauren as she conquers her fears and makes new friends.  Short chapters and frequent illustrations make this an accessible book for elementary schoolers in grade 2 and up; an author’s note provides a little further insight into Autism Spectrum Disorder and celebrates the existence of caring adults and kind friends.”

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Disability Rights UK, Aurelia (aged 11)

“All three books show us that the things around Lauren are really bad and need to change to accommodate Lauren. Things don’t change around Lauren in Slug Days, but she does finally manage to make one friend who arrives new in class from Sweden.

I feel annoyed reading books like this because I can really feel the pain that Lauren goes through. I have had teachers who didn’t understand me, and behaved very passive aggressively in response to my autism. When you are an autistic child, if the people around you who have the power make bad decisions and don’t act as though they understand you or care, it makes you really angry, anxious and depressed. Lauren feels anxious and angry when she is misunderstood too.”

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