THE WHISTLING DUCK WHO WOULDN’T JUMP/सीटीमार बतख जो कूदी नहीं
Vinatha Viswanathan
THE WHISTLING DUCK WHO WOULDN’T JUMP/सीटीमार बतख जो कूदी नहीं by By Katie Bagli. Illustrations by Neeta Gangopadhya. Translated into Hindi by Kusumlata Singh Children’s Book Trust, 2023, 16 pp., INR 60.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

A pair of whistling ducks looks for a nesting site around their traditional habitat—a lake. Unable to settle on a spot, Ohm and Maya take a chance on the terrace of a building in a town close to the lake. Maya lays a clutch of 18 eggs that hatches soon. One day later, Ohm and Maya lead their fledgelings off the terrace, onto the ground and onwards to the lake. All but one of them follow. Dinkoo is unable to find the courage to launch himself off from such a height despite seeing all his siblings do so without coming to harm. His mother waits for him while the rest of the brood waddle off with their father. How Dinkoo finally manages to jump—trying to save his mother trapped by a hunter—is the exciting twist in this tale.
The story by Katie Bagli is about the breeding behaviour of whistling ducks woven in the form of a fictional tale. A style quite suitable for the intended readers. This is a book about animals that talks about them in an environment most of us are familiar with and in which we see most of our wildlife—our homes, neighbourhoods and their edges adjoining natural habitats. Details about the breeding habits of these ducks are casually inserted in the narrative without making it onerous. However, the chancing of a hunter at that location handy with a net seems a bit unlikely. The illustrations by Neeta Gangopadhya translate the tale. The translation in Hindi at some points lacks the flow on the English original. The text could have benefitted from a heavier hand at editing.
The Whistling Duck who wouldn’t Jump is a welcome addition to the genre of books that marries non-fiction and fiction for young children. It has won a prize in the Category Read Aloud Books/Picture Books in the Competition for Writers of Children’s Books organized by CBT.