Willow the Duckling (Dr Kitty Kat series) ISBN: 9780192743350
Published by OUP, 2016
This is one of a series of books about young animals with various health problems and their doctor, Dr Kitty Kat. She has an assistant, a mouse called Peanut, who just happens to be male and is very timid and anxious. Firstly, we see all the young animals coming to the clinic for their vaccinations for ‘fur and feather flu. Dr Kitty Kat explains how important it is to have the vaccination, and as this one is from a puffer up the nose, it doesn’t hurt. The little animals are all very excited because the Thistletown Talent Show is about to happen and they are participating. In the next chapter, we find out that Willow the duck has collapsed on stage while rehearsing for the performance, and the doctor and Peanut must rush to the rescue. Peanut begins to worry, and the doctor gives him a breathing exercise to do as they are heading in their brightly-coloured ‘vanbulance’ to the theatre. Willow has collapsed and is having difficulty breathing. With her usual calmness, Dr Kitty Kat asks all the right questions and finds that Willow has suffered a massive panic attack brought on by stage fright. She teaches Willow and all the other small animals the breathing exercise because they are all suffering from stage fright to some extent. During the show, Willow remembers her breathing and manages her dance very nicely, but a fox, who is supposed to yodel for his act, is complaining of a sore throat. At first the doctor suspects fur and feather flu because the fox hasn’t had the vaccination, but it turns out just to be because he’s been practicing too much! Peanut gets involved with the fox’s act, and is so excited by his success that he can’t sleep that night. Dr Kitty Cat shows him a relaxation exercise and puts a drop of lavender oil on his pillow so he can sleep. There is lots of good information in these books real, proper information put in easily understood terms and pulling no punches, but is done in an accessible form that will appeal. The illustrations are unusual real photographs of the animals, overlaid with drawn-on clothing in white and blue. Backgrounds, when they are needed, are in the same colours with added black lines. This is a most interesting series of what are basically information books but with stories as well. Excellent.