What child can resist a warm and fluffy pet? Certainly not Heather of Hazel Ridge Farm.
In I Love You Just Enough by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, young Heather finds a fragile, frightened baby duck cowering in the farm’s prairie grass. Her father allows her to take it home, but there are rules, and she quickly learns she’s getting more than a pet; she’s getting a new baby.
She must keep the duck safe, and warm, and she must teach it to swim and hunt for bugs and all the other the food that ducks eat. But most important of all, she must love the baby duck just enough to be able to let it go when it’s old enough to leave.
All that summer, Heather cares for Mr. Peet – the name she gives the baby duck. She gives him a bed, finds bugs and larvae for him to eat from the pond, lets him splash in the bathtub, and watches him practice flying.
Mr. Peet gets bigger, smarter and stronger and life is good. But like all other good things that come to an end, Heather’s time with her baby duck soon begins to wind down. By the end of summer, Heather returns to her school and her friends, and Mr. Peet finds a group of web-footed friends of his own.
This is a sweet book about learning to care and share with others. But perhaps even more important, it’s a book about learning to do what’s best for someone else, even if it doesn’t seem best for you.
The illustrations are done in wonderful colors; there is the deep green of summer; the lush thickness of the prairie grass; and the soft burnt orange of the late summer skies just before sundown.
Early elementary classrooms should be able to do many things with this book. It can be used to teach about orphaned animals and rehabilitating wild animals. It can also be used to teach about food sources for animals, how animals interact with each other (e.g., Mr. Peet and the farm dog are friends), and how important it is for every living thing to have its freedom.
Best wishes and happy farm life,