Etty and Ella: The Tale of Duck I Do tells the story of a girl who flies to a magical world with the help of her best friend: a rocking horse that comes alive at night.
Ella is a six-year-old whose prized toy is a rocking horse named Etty. One night, Etty comes to life as a winged unicorn and whisks Ella away to a world with lollipop trees and candy clouds. His friend Duck-I-Do, he explains, has lost his feathers to the evil Witchety-Poo. Ella and Etty join forces to track down Witchety-Poo and reclaim Duck-I-Do’s feathers.
Though straightforward, the storyline of this picture book lacks nuance. For instance, Witchety-Poo tells the friends that she’s stolen Duck-I-Do’s feathers because they “make for a very good umbrella.” Rather than using persuasion or logic to deal with the situation, the friends summon a windstorm to blow Witchy-Poo “away.” They then turn her hat into an umbrella. This tit-for-tat mindset is callous, preventing an exploration of important themes such as fairness and ownership. Why is their theft any better, after all, than Witchy-Poo’s?
In addition, invented onomatopoeias (“Flinga Flaba Banuga”) and words beyond the average six-year-old’s reading level (“liquorice,” for example) complicate the reading experience, making it difficult for children to tackle without significant help from an older reader.
Etty and Ella features bright, whimsical illustrations and employs a premise that has proven inspirational for young imaginations—but the story’s execution may be challenging for its young audience and its dubious message may be off-putting for parents.
Also available as an ebook.