Award Winning Nature Stories from a National Wildlife Federation Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat! 5-Star Reviews!
Happy, sad, and at times a little whimsical, Maria's Duck Tales: Wildlife Stories From My Garden is a collection of short stories of the sometimes complicated, sometimes heart-breaking but always enriching relationship between a woman and the wildlife who call her garden home.
Sharing her observations and interactions with the wild ducks, swans, opossums, ospreys and squirrels of Penataquit Creek, the stories are interwoven with fascinating facts about wildlife and insights into communicating with and understanding our wild friends. Maria's poignant and heartwarming memoirs, as well as the unique bond that she shares with her garden visitors, are, at times, touching, delightful, comical and heartrending.
Professional Reviews IndieReader 5-Star Review
Verdict: Maria’s Duck Tales – Wildlife Stories from my Garden is a delightful and informative, stirring set of tender and educational animal stories for nature lovers, young and old.
A collection of stories about the ducks that lived in the author’s backyard and taught her about Mother Nature’s hope and heartbreak.
Author Maria Daddino writes about her Penataquit Creek home and garden, which became a temporary home to many creatures. As the title states, many of the stories revolve around Daddino’s endearing duck visitors, like Peanuts and Patches her Muscovy ducks, and a tearful story about their encounter with a red fox. However, Daddino also opened her home to swans, ducks and geese, as observed ospreys and opossums. Her descriptions of the animals are vivid as well as educational, detailing habitats and behavior of the animals:
“What I didn’t know was that opossums shared their world with the dinosaurs and that their babies are so small when they are born that twenty can fit into one teaspoon, a discovery which made me realize that most of the members of my new little opossum family were already teenagers!"
The book, which includes elegant color pencil illustrations by Steve Ensign, begins with Daddino describing how she grew up in Brooklyn always had “a profound love for Mother Earth,” and was thrilled when she discovered her dream community “that cherished the bounty of the land and the opulence of its wildlife.” Here, Daddino began to work on her garden that would invite swans, geese and ducks that would become friends to Daddino and teach her about all the aspects of Mother Nature. As Daddino prepares her garden she gives the reader a hint that the changing seasons bring a foreboding of sadness:
“Nothing compares to the lushness of my summer garden, the fragrances of oriental lilies and roses, the early morning dew on the grass, the sweet tastes of vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and freshly-picked raspberries and the gentle warmth that emanates from the soil.
The vivid oranges, yellows and browns of a fall woodland strike a chord deep in my soul but, as I watch the falling leaves, I am overcome with a sense of sadness as I think of the long, dark days ahead.”
Daddino manages to highlight the painful paradox of nature, the ups and downs of survival in her recounting of the stories of the ducks being preyed upon by the fox, and the ducklings getting lost in the storm:
“There is no more heartbreaking sight than that of a Muscovy mother looking for her babies and not finding them. Peanut looked in all their favorite places, gently cooing and clucking to them. Peanut came up to me pecking at my leg, practically begging me to join in the search.”
Daddino’s choice of names for her ducks is also quite entertaining – from Robert to Bianca to Lucky to names inspired by the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal: Hillary, Monica, Gennifer, Flower, Paula and Joansie.
Daddino’s closes her chronological story with a touching dedication in the epilogue to her beloved dog, Gypsy Blue. In this epilogue, Daddino’s voice, her love and connection for Gypsy Blue, animals, nature is especially apparent and moving, and makes for a powerful close to a gratifying read.
Maria’s Duck Tales – Wildlife Stories from my Garden is a delightful and informative, stirring set of tender and educational animal stories for nature lovers, young and old.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader.com 2012
Midwest Book Review
In the simple world of the garden, life tries to make its way through. "Maria's Duck Tales: Wildlife Stories from My Garden" is a collection of memories from Maria Daddino as she presents animal tales from her home and gardens, with a touch of humor and poignancy. Duck Tales" is a strong pick for wildlife-themed memoir collections, recommended.
Stephen Dickstein for Examiner.com
One of the nice things about being a columnist is receiving notification from various good people in the animal world about books, services and events that provide a shining light on animals and illustrate how much we love them.
In April, I received a message from a reader on Long Island, New York who describes herself as a "wildlife advocate". Her ". . . passions are native gardening and wildlife." While her ". . . challenge is having the two peacefully co-exist in the same garden!" This is a wildlife advocate who recognizes that humans and animals should peacefully co-exist and respect the fact that each share this land.
Maria Daddino is also a columnist, writing a weekly community column, "From Fourth Neck," for the western edition of The Southampton Press. Last year, she wrote Maria's Duck Tales ". . . a collection of short stories of the sometimes complicated, sometimes heart-breaking but always enriching relationship between a woman and the wildlife who call her garden home."
We must confess that we haven't yet finished reading this book, but what we have read is both delightful and heartwarming. It is so refreshing to read about someone who values visits by wildlife in her yard instead of complaining about any perceived havoc they may cause. From her book Maria writes, "I always enjoyed sitting on my terrace in Bay Shore, delighting in the beauty of my garden and the antics of my wild-friends . . . I felt so privileged that year to have shared in such an extraordinary gift of nature and I will always remember the exhilaration I felt as I watched a very special pair of young ospreys soar high into the warm summer sky . . ."
Note use of the word "privileged" to describe her experience with wildlife. It is indeed a privilege for humans to co-exist with animals and to share in the experience of life by watching their integration with the world around them. How often have you watched birds flock to feeders in your backyard or squirrels scurry up a fence to feast on peanuts and corn? It is indeed mesmerizing for those who respect the beauty of wildlife and the fascination they are to watch. As Maria writes, "I was thrilled to be part of a cutting-edge community that cherished the bounty of the land and the opulence of its wildlife."
Maria's stories both educate and warm our hearts to recognize the endless joy, amusement and sometimes sadness animals bring to our world. For ". . . her backyard wouldn't be complete without a bevy of animals–deer, pheasants and turkeys, to name a few, as well as a feral cat Ms. Daddino named Emmy Lou. Come one, come all is her policy, she said."
Give this book a read. We think you'll enjoy it. If you'd like to purchase a copy of Maria's Duck Tales, go to her website for ordering information.