illustrated by Rebecca Harry
Ruby’s brothers and sisters are always rushing off in search of an adventure. “This way, Ruby!” they call, as they race through reed beds and up onto the bank. But little Ruby follows slowly, in her own time, so that she can take in all the lovely things that surround her. Which is just as well, for when the ducklings are lost in a storm, only Ruby can find the way home!
“A sweet book for preschoolers … perfect for storytimes and family sharing.”
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Full of genuine warmth that simply can not fail to delight both parent and child … an absolute treasure of a book.”
The first Ruby book was so well received that, even before it was published, I was asked to write a second Ruby story. I wasn’t keen on the idea initially. The first book, which followed Ruby’s life from egg through to motherhood, felt self-contained and I wasn’t comfortable tacking a sequel onto the end of it. I was keen to do another book with Rebecca Harry, but suggested a story featuring a new set of characters*.
However Macmillan, my UK publisher, was keen that the second book should feature Ruby. The images of Ruby as a fluffy yellow duckling were particularly appealing and, since I had ruled out a sequel (which might have involved one of Ruby’s children), it was suggested that the new story could be set inside the time frame of the first book when Ruby was a young duckling.
It took me the best part of a year before I came up with a first draft of This Way Ruby. Whereas the first Ruby story is told from the point of view of her parents (with all the dialogue being delivered by Mother or Father Duck), this second story is firmly centred on Ruby and her siblings as they set off to explore the lake and it’s surroundings.
The first book made it clear that the young Ruby would lag behind her siblings in almost any activity, so the challenge of this story was to present her slowness as a virtue rather than a handicap. In the story Ruby prefers to take a slower pace so that she can take in her new surroundings properly before moving on – and I think that this is a genuine virtue.
I went through several drafts of the story with editor Emma Harris, before arriving at a finished version. I needed a reason for the ducklings to want to turn back suddenly and head for home and we went through various options, including a snake slithering through the grass, before settling on the thunderstorm.
The thunderstorm prompted the book’s illustrator, Rebecca Harry, to use a darker palette than she has used elsewhere and the resulting spread (shown below) is my favourite in the book. I particularly like the way that the wet ducklings are shown huddling together on the right hand side. Elsewhere, Rebecca’s illustrates the book with the same warmth and charm that she brought to the first Ruby story.
* The story that I suggested was I Love You Always and Forever, which has since been illustrated by Daniel Howarth and will also be published by Scholastic in the US.
Darling duckling Ruby, from Ruby in Her Own Time, is still the littlest of the clutch, content to take things in her own time. When her bigger, bolder brothers and sisters race off to explore, Ruby prefers to take life more slowly, stopping to appreciate the waterfall, willow, fish and frogs along the way. “Look!” she cries. But the others do not stop. “THIS WAY, RUBY!” they call, unobservant in their hurry. So it’s wee Ruby who first sees big black storm clouds sweeping across the sky; and when lightning alarms and disorients the ducks, it’s Ruby who, though scared herself, uses the sights and sounds she has noticed as landmarks to navigate the way to safety.
Harry’s palette of lavender, blue, green and fuzzy, yummy yellow is perfect for her charmingly bedraggled little duckies and their friendly lakeside surroundings, and Emmett’s musical, alliterative language (occasionally typeset to reflect the text) is gentle and engaging.
This is a sweet book for preschoolers, who will enjoy the little bit of danger and the reassurance that Ruby will find the way home. Harry’s illustrations are charming, giving each duckling its own personality. The pastel palette provides a sense of comfort and well-being throughout. Small details are tucked into each picture for children to discover. This follow-up to Ruby in Her Own Time is perfect for storytimes and family sharing. Youngsters will be reassured to discover that not all ducks have to swim through life at the same pace.
Susan E. Murray, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
This is a lovely, warm-hearted story that is told with humour and simplicity … There are important messages conveyed in this simple story that young children will quickly pick up and learn from. In this way it is the perfect book for sharing with young readers … The illustration brings the book to life, its pastel colours and gentle brush strokes create a warm and tactile series of images of fluffy ducklings, gentle riverbanks and yet exciting adventures in nature. This Way Ruby’ is a warm, gentle and fun story which I am sure will become a firm favourite for many young readers.
Louise Ellis-Barrett, WRITE AWAY
The alliterative names provide a fun mantra to recite aloud, and the simple yet movement-filled illustrations, thickly brushed in soft nursery colors, depict a cast of darling ducklings, as deliciously fluffy and sweet as lemon chiffon pie.
Stephanie Zvirin, BOOKLIST
A book full of genuine warmth that simply can not fail to delight both parent and child … The illustrations wrap the text in colour, making the book something to truly look after … Quite simply, an absolute treasure of a book.