Early Readers – I Wish That I Had Duck Feet

A little boy wishes that he had duck feet … but then again, his mother wouldn’t like it. So he wishes he had a spout on his head, or a long tail, or horns or an elephant’s nose. But with the advantages of having these unique features come drawbacks, until the boy finally declares that he would much rather just be himself.

First published in 1965, this has remained a popular title. There are some slightly dated elements – the vacuuming mother wears pearls, the father smokes a pipe – but for the most part the story is timeless. Kids everywhere wonder what it would be like to have a strangely different body. It is interesting that you can read the “message” of the story as either “you’re perfect just the way you are, be content” or as “Being different is dangerous and unpleasant.” I suspect the first message is the one that was intended. Modern parents may also want to be aware that a large part of the story centers around purposefully making “Big Bill” unhappy. Presumably this is a bully character, but it is still a sentiment that tends to be downplayed on modern playgrounds.

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