Sunday, February 9, 2014
Farmer Schulz's ducks were the loveliest ducks in the world. There were brown ducks and grey ducks and speckled ducks. There were ducks with necks of opal and wings of amethyst; their colours gleamed in the sunlight, their feathers shone like jewels. There were ducks with the sheen of emerald, of sapphire and turquoise and jasper, like the glint of Aladdin's treasure. There were ducks like burnished gold.
Farmer Schultz's Ducks by Colin Thiele, first published in 1986 by Walter McVitty Books, is now out of print, yet but this beautiful story set in the Adelaide Hills is still relevant to the young readers of today. Farmer Schulz's beloved ducks keep on dying undignified deaths. His farm farm is close to a highway and the ducks become potential road victims every time they cross the highway to the Onkaparinga River. Rapid urban development has seen an increase in the traffic and also an indifference to the fate of the ducks by motorist tearing along to meet their busy work schedules. Farmer Schulz's daughter Anna has a few ideas to solve the problem. Farmer Schulz soon incurs the disapproval of government and the family has to rethink their whole approach to the problem. The illustrations by Mary Milton, a South Australian artist, are subtle yet detailed reflections of a myriad of breeds and personalities of the ducks described in the text. They also richly portray family life on this farm. Colin Thiele was born in South Australia in 1920 and his German ancestry was certainly a big influence on the book.