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laura m backman

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Lemon the Duck
by laura m backman   

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Publisher:  Lobster Press ISBN-10:  1897073747 Type: 


Copyright:  September 1, 2008 ISBN-13:  9781897073742

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Lemon the Duck
Lemon the Duck

This gorgeous picture book is based on the inspirational true story of Lemon the Pekin Duck.

Lemon was born in an elementary school classroom. Neurological issues make Lemon unable to walk, but with the support of a compassionate teacher and her students, Lemon is still able to become one happy duck. In the story, Ms. Lake and her class conduct an egg-hatching project in school and on the big day, welcome four little ducklings into the world. The students soon realize that the soft yellow one they named Lemon looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but cannot stand up and walk like a duck. They worry that Lemon won't be happy if she is not able to do all the things ducks love to do, and work together to help Lemon thrive. When the time comes to tackle the challenge of encouraging Lemon to stand up, their creative ideas lead to a surprising solution, the recycling of an old doggie life vest, which, it turns out, makes the perfect duck harness. Through working with Lemon, the students share her in victories and learn that acceptance, love, and extra special care can go a long way. They also come to understand that her difference does not make Lemon any less special.

Richard's look of happiness turned to one of worry. "Ms. Lake, does this mean Lemon will leave us to go live on Mr. Web's farm?"
"She will stay here, and we will love her and keep her healthy and safe," Ms. Lake reassured the students."Lemon will always need us."
"I think we need her too," Nathaniel said.

Professional Reviews

Lemon the Duck---Canadian Review of Materials
In the story Lemon the Duck, Ms. Lake has a great new learning experience for her primary students... they are incubating four Pekin domestic duck eggs. On "the big day," Peaches, Chip Chip, Daisy and Lemon emerge. While the children celebrate their new found friends, they notice Lemon is different... she is unable to stand. As the story progresses, the reader learns Lemon has been born with neurological problems that will require "extra special care."

While the other three ducks retire to Mr. Web's farm, Lemon lives with the teacher and becomes the class pet. Pushed in a stroller, Lemon commutes where she enjoys swimming in a tub and she is hand-fed worms. Yet still Lemon longs for the freedom to move about independently. The children work as a team experimenting and problem solving to give Lemon the best possible support in her quest for more autonomy. They try tying balloons to her, using a walker, propping her up with pillows, food temptation, but finally meet with success when student Holly notices a dog life jacket while helping to clean her garage at home. Back at school, the teacher slips Lemon's legs into the holes of the dog vest, the children hold the handles to assist with the weight, and VOILA, Lemon can walk upright for the first time. If the children are busy, they simply attach Lemon's carrier to a stand. She is finally able to move around on her own, observing what is happening around her, "mucking around in the ground (like all ducks love to do) "and even finding her own worms for the first time rather than being hand fed."

A quiver of sadness begins as Nathaniel questions if this freedom means Lemon is now destined for Mr. Web's farm as well. Ms. Lake confirms that Lemon will always need them, to which Nathaniel's response is, "I think we need her too!"

Laura Backman has done an incredible job of relating a personal experience that occurred in her primary classroom in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Children can easily identify with a variety of typical student character types found in the text. She has crafted a book where much can be learned about not only the basic development of "oviparous animals" (animals that lay eggs) but more importantly the value of an individual with special needs. Select phrases that incorporate the use of a variety of senses are sprinkled throughout the text, such as "mucking around," "chorus of quacking," "grandmother's lemon meringue pie," "burst out of their egg" and "peeping balls of fluff."

Backman has subliminally added life lessons; for instance, disabilities do not make one less special, the importance of quality of life; goals can be achieved in creative ways when one has difficulties to overcome; and assistance is important but so is standing back to offer encouragement so that self-reliance and a sense of personal accomplishment might also be achieved.

Nathaniel showed the others how to feed her. "Hold the worm by Lemon's tail," he instructed. "Ms. Lake says Lemon needs to practice touching her oil gland so she can get stronger, and waterproof herself. It will keep her dry in the water."

Laurence Cleyet-Merle, from Marseille, France, has illustrated many books, magazines and even board games. His well drawn cartoon images are the perfect medium to capture the wide-eyed innocence of children looking at a special needs character for the first time. He has revealed a sense of wonder, concern, love and compassion in the facial expressions of both the children and the ducks. Both colour and light have been skillfully utilized to enhance the story with his quality art.

Lemon the Duck supports primary curriculum and teachers might use this book with children to show:

a "SAFE WAY" to talk about disabilities
the importance of accepting individuals for what they can do
class team work
following through with a class project
the development of egg laying animals
the enhancement of a story by using descriptive phrases
vocabulary development
lessons on "Writing Traits" i.e. word choice, organization, voice, sentence fluency, ideas, conventions
Not only is this an awesome story, but the reader can turn it into a real life experience. To do a follow up on Lemon, visit her website at Here you cannot only see the nonfiction version of this tale unfold but also get updates on Lemon, complete with pictures, home video clips, poems, jokes, other stories of animal rescue, duckology and several newspaper articles featuring Lemon.

To summarize, Lemon the Duck book is delightfully well-written, with excellent illustrations, and has a variety of purposes in a classroom. I highly recommend this book both for home and school use.

Highly Recommended.

Margaret Snow is a teacher librarian and Early Literacy teacher in a small school in Southwestern Ontario.

Lemon the Duck---Mom Central
Many children’s books are important not just in their ability to nurture bonds between parent and child or expose kids to the joy of reading, but because they relay a message or teach an important lesson. A new book, Lemon the Duck, written by Laura Backman, goes above and beyond even this. This story not only delivers messages (about accepting disabilities and uniqueness, the benefits of offering both help and encouragement, and achieving goals), but it also tells the heartwarming story of Lemon, a duck who is unable to stand up, based on the author’s experiences with the real Lemon the duck. The story follows Lemon from the very beginning, when she was born into a classroom of students who, after discovering her disability, do their best to take care of her. What follows is a tale of hope and love, as the children do all they can for Lemon as she struggles to be independent and fit in with the other ducks. The touching and adorable story is complimented by Laurence Cleyet-Merle’s beautiful illustrations. The colorful and vivid pictures and sweet story are sure to impress everyone, children and adults alike. This book deserves a place of honor on every children’s bookshelf. For more information, visit the Lobster Press website.

Lemon the Duck---Stories for Children

Richard was the first to hear the soft peeping sounds as the four duck eggs began to hatch in Ms. Lake's classroom. The children named the ducklings Peaches, Lemon, Daisy, and Chip-Chip. However, neurological issues made Lemon unable to walk. Ms. Lake contacted Dr. Bill the vet, who said that Lemon had a balance problem for which not much could be done. The other ducks went to live on Mr. Web's farm, but Ms. Lake and the students did what they could to give Lemon the extra special care that she needed to grow stronger. In the end, their creativity invented a solution for Lemon to visit with her siblings. This book is based on the inspirational true story of the author's real-life experience with a duck born in an elementary school classroom. It teaches not only about egg to duckling development but also about animals (and people) who are different and have special needs. Children need to remember that disabilities do not make anyone less special, and a book like this is a helpful way to impress such a lesson on their minds. It is a truly heart-warming story with lovely illustrations that I highly recommend.

Wayne S. Walker, reviewer with Stories for Children, 09/01/2008

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