Duck, Death and the Tulip


Written & Illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch
Genre Children’s picture book
Age 6+

Duck suddenly comes upon Death, who nonchalantly informs Duck that “I’ve been close by all your life.” Duck slowly warms up to this gawky version of Grim Reaper with a large skull head and an oversized tweed jacket, Death that seems to stay by his side.

A strange camaraderie evolves as the two spend some time together, and they talk about death, what happens to ducks after they die , the pain of not being with things that are special to her like the pond that will be lonely without her. Death also realizes he has never been befriended before. Each answer is honest , simple yet profound in these intimate conversations between the two . Illustrations in subdued shades keep the mood of the book childlike and soft , yet stark and slow way that compels you to pause to take in what is happening . Both heartbreaking and comforting, utterly honest yet simple, this tender book is treasure is a must read for all


While the book may seem stark for children , I think the opposite is true. Taboo and uncomfortable subjects are where children seek answers and not treating it with as much importance as it deserves , creates more fears than they assuage.

An animated version at this link here

Grey Matters Discussions

Why do you think they chose a duck? Frail , lovable , easily scared…What animal or bird would you have put in this place?

Why did the Duck want Death to visit her pond?

Do you think Duck felt better when she befriended Death? What does it mean to have death as a friend ?

Why do we avoid talking of what is inevitable? Why do we give negative connotations to death -shun it enough to not even say the word dead- passed away, kick the bucket etc.

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