The Duck and the Darklings August 11 2014 2 Comments

Glenda Millard, Stephen Michael King
Hardback | AU $24.99 | BUY NOW

Some children’s picture books are so beautifully simple that they envelop the reader into delight and warmth. Like a feel good movie, the story leaves a happy glow. But what about a children’s picture book set in world dissimilar to their own, a book that introduces language unfamiliar. A book with meanings woven so finely into its poetic text that it noticeably alludes to interesting concepts and discussion.

The Dark and the Darklings is one such book. When I first picked up this book, in a busy library and juggling my two children I quickly scanned the pages of the book and recall thinking - What is this book on about? It wasn’t until days later that I had the time to truly immerse myself in this title and I glad I didn’t simply dismiss this one.


Written by Australian author Glenda Millard and Illustrated by Stephen Michael King, The Duck and the Darklings explores the world that ‘Peterboy’, his Grandpapa and the other Darklings inhabit. It is a dark world, under the ground in a post-apocalyptic setting. Contrasty to the dark world, Grandpa remembers when the world was filled with light and was bright and beautiful. Peterboy’s desire to reignite Grandpa’s memory of the beautiful world is what drives this triumphant tale. The friendship and mutual healing that takes place when a downy and soft yet broken duck joins their world, is the seed of hope and light that illuminates the darkness and is catalyst in turning grandpas memories into ‘shining shimmering words’ that fills the darkness with light once more.

With every read of this book I find even more complexity and meaning woven into the pages, illustration and characters. A work of true depth and purpose. A necessary book to have been published.


For Parents: If you have ever known a child that has observed a family member struggling with depression, this tale will resonate. With themes of enduring hardship, family, environmental destruction and regeneration, hope friendship and the importance of sharing memories, this book is a treasure.

As a picture book dotted with interesting and unfamiliar words, the Duck and the Darklings offers an opportunity for parents to reconnect with independent readers as they discuss and explore the story together.

For Teachers: Allen & Unwin has provided extensive teachers notes that include numerous activities to help explore the themes found within this story. Ages 4 and above.

More about the Author and Illustrator