Review: Duck Days

Title: Duck Days (Slug Days Stories #3)
Author: Sara Leach, Rebecca Bender (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

The third title in the collection that began with USBBY Outstanding International Book Slug Days. Lauren, a third-grade student who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, takes on the challenges of sharing her best friend and persevering when a classmate mocks her bicycle’s training wheels.

Irma is Lauren’s best friend. Irma knows all the strategies Lauren uses when her Autism Spectrum Disorder makes it hard to “go with the flow.” Lauren helps Irma learn English words and understand unfamiliar customs. So why does Irma suddenly want to introduce Lauren to her mountain-biking, litter-dropping neighbor Jonas? Why is Irma calling Jonas her friend? 

As if sharing Irma weren’t bad enough, Lauren also has an alarming new problem at school. Their teacher has announced a mountain biking day when the students will learn to ride their bikes on an obstacle course. But Lauren still uses training wheels. She just can’t face the teasing she will get when her classmates see them. She isn’t brave like Irma. She can’t go with the flow like Dad. How can she possibly face this challenge?

Review:

Irma is Lauren’s best friend. Irma has immigrated from Sweden, and she is still learning to speak English. Lauren is on the Autism Spectrum, so while she helps Irma with her English, Irma helps Lauren with techniques to cope with her Autism. One day, Irma introduces Lauren to her new friend, Jonas. Lauren gets upset that Irma now has a new friend. Jonas wants to teach them some bike riding tricks, which intimidates Lauren because she still uses training wheels. When her teacher schedules a bike riding activity, Lauren has to find the courage to ride her bike with training wheels in front of her class.

I loved the Autism representation in this story. Lauren had a lot of visual techniques to help figure out the world around her. She would make hand signals with her father to signal how she was coping with the current situation. Her teacher taught her with flash cards with emotional cues in facial expressions so she could try to read the emotions on the faces of other people. Lauren’s Autism also meant that she liked to have everything scheduled, so when Irma brought another friend over to play with them, it threw her off. Lauren ended up liking Jonas too, so the experience wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be, even though it changed her planned schedule.

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!

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Slug Days by Sara Leach

Megabat by Anna Humphrey and Kass Reich (illustrator)

Other books in the series:

  • Slug Days
  • Penguin Days

Have you read Duck Days? What did you think of it?

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