#1281 – I GOT YOU A PRESENT! by Mike Erskine-Kellie, Susan McLennan & Cale Atkinson


Written by Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan
Illustrated by Cale Atkinson
Kids Can Press   4/7/2020
32 Pages   Age 3—7

.   .   .   .   .DEBUT AUTHORS

Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Resilience, Friendships, Birthdays




“I got you the GREATEST
birthday present EVER.

“Something amazing.
Something unexpected.
Something that you will
really love.

“I just had to work out
a few kinks first . . .”
(from inside jacket cover)

Opening Sentences

“Happy Birthday!
Birthdays are the best!
You get a cake, a party and . . .

Why I like I Got You a Present!

Duckie’s best friend is having a birthday party and Duckie wants to find the “greatest present ever.”  The present has to be “amazing,” “unexpected,” and something Bear “would really love.” That’s not too much to expect, is it?

But each present Duckie imagines doesn’t work out as Duckie had planned. The presents are all failures. Duckie, still as energetic and enthusiastic as ever, explains his trials to Bear and all the guests (a brown Dog wearing red-framed glasses; a black & white Cat wearing a green bow-tie; a tiny, grey Mouse with big white teeth; a blue and white Bunny with the cutest pink nose; and Duckie, a white mallard with expressive eyes & eye-lashes).

First, Duckie thought Bear would love a pair of warm socks. He reads, “Knitting for Ducks” and then knits the warmest pair of socks he can. Only the socks ravel at the toes, making them unwearable and probably not so warm. Duckie’s all-black eyes and straight eye-lashes express how disappointed he is over the ravels.  Duckie is not giving up!

Duckie gathers his resolve and thinks of something else Bear really loves:  ice cream! Duckie goes to the local ice cream shop, where the black and white cow behind the counter scoops up ten of Bear’s most favorite flavors. Walking home, the scoops begin to arc over his head and melt in the sun.  Duckie also forgets one important thing: how will he wrap a ten-scoop ice cream cone? Back to the drawing board. Duckie is not giving up!

Duckie uses a cork-board for his ideas.  Each idea connects to the next with red yarn, much like police do to figure out mysteries. The pair of homemade socks (raveled) are connect to the ten-scoop ice cream cone (melted). The ice cream gives Duckie a new idea. A present that cannot ravel or melt. It is perfect . . . until he plays it for Bear. Duckie quickly sees this present is the wrong present.

Though discouraged, Duckie remains open to new ideas. He never stays upset for long. Each failure becomes a stepping stone to a new, better idea. Skip even one idea for fear of failure and Duckie might not have gotten his idea for the “greatest present ever.”

Duckie is a resilient mallard, just like children are (resilient, not mallards). Children seem to innately know how to pick themselves up and move on after something doesn’t go their way. That’s resilience! Learning from your mistakes can be a good way to learn–just pick yourself up and keep on trying. Goof-ups, mistakes, and failures are often important steps to success. The journey to the answer can be the best part of success.

The Marketing Department for Kids Can Press spoke with Duckie. He had this to say,

“Hey, I’m a resilient duck,” said Duckie, the book’s web-footed and wise-quacking hero. “Read the book and you’ll see that every new amazing birthday gift I give is a failure, but I use each setback as a launchpad to a new idea – and an even greater failure! But remember, I’m Duckie, so I always get back up and try again!

“ In the end, I learn a pretty valuable lesson: that presence is more important than presents. And you can quote me on that. Quack! Quack!”

“. . . presence is more important than presents.”

I Got You a Present will tickle the funny bones of kids “3 to 7.” I’m guessing the bones of those older and younger will be tickled as well. Mine sure were. The illustrations are beautifully done, with amazing detail, and full-bleed spreads. Children will enjoy seeing the different animals at this party (each wearing an upside-down, blue and yellow striped cone birthday hat). The art is enough to tell the story, but don’t miss Duckie’s debut. He tells the story with humor, warmth, and energetic expressions children will love.

In the end, Duckie finds the greatest present, thanks to the previous eight failures. Duckie finds inspiration in each failure, just like successful entrepreneurs do! And Duckie learned an important lesson: being at an event/with family or friends is more important than what you bring with you. Duckie finds a successful way to give Bear everything he wants to give him, because the failures did not stop Duckie from picking up and starting again!

Inspire your children to find inspiration in their failures. They just might find their own stories! And always remember, “. . . presence is more important than presents.”

Illustrations Rendered in cake icing, gorilla vanilla ice cream and Photoshop.

Available at Amazon:  I Got You a Present!

I GOT YOU A PRESENT!. Text Copyright © 2020 by Mike Erskine-Kellie & Susan McLennan. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Cale Atkinson. Published by  Kids Can Press, Toronto, ON.


Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
[678 word count-review only]

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NOTE FROM ME: This should have posted on Friday, but the “publish” button was not clicked. Blame me! I fell asleep (after this was completed) and when I awoke–to go to bed–thought it was already posted.  My apologies to Kids Can Press and all who read KLR.

Next Up: “Weekend Board Book” on Monday

2 thoughts on “#1281 – I GOT YOU A PRESENT! by Mike Erskine-Kellie, Susan McLennan & Cale Atkinson

    • I think both of you have that attitude already, but practice makes perfect . . . failures! Kidding you. (Probably not a smart thing to do to a little dog, especially if Cupcake’s anything like my little dog.) “Ouch!”


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