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Favourite books: Farmer Duck

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By Antony Lishakauthor, former teacher and writer in residence for Literacy Time PLUS (visit

Explore the benefits of teamwork and the dangers of exploitation, using the simple context of this children’s classic

Farmer Duck

Shared bedtime stories bind us together. My daughter, Emily, is now 20 and at university, but so precious were those moments spent sharing Farmer Duck that even now when I type ‘How goes the work?’ into Windows Live Messenger, I know her reply will be ‘quack’. Thanks to the gentle genius of Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury, that duck has become a family hero. If you have not yet fallen under this book’s spell, prepare yourself. Great picture books can be revisited again and again, but classics like this don’t wait to be reread – they continue to visit you all by themselves.


Farmer Duck is a faithful, devoted, down-trodden duck who single-wingedly runs the farm as the ‘lazy old farmer’ stays in bed munching chocolates, reading the newspaper and occasionally enquiring from his bedroom window, ‘How goes the work?’, to which the stoical bird invariably replies ‘Quack’. Concerned for their much-loved duck, the cows, sheep and chickens plot an Orwellian-type revolution and, in the dead of night, forcibly expel the fat farmer. Thereafter, they harmoniously run the farm as an animal collective.

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