There are some books which I know, as soon as I heard of them, I MUST Have. And a few where I think, "I MUST interview the author of that book." Such is the case here.
I have long been a fan of rubber duckies. Or as I put it, being the silly punster I am, I am into things fowl. I wrote here about this odd obsession and when I moved from Maryland to Texas and stayed at the homes of people I knew online but had not yet met in person I had them take photos with some of ducks.
So you can see two things from this: 1) I need mental help and 2) this book, about the biggest news event about rubber duckies since their invention, was a must-read for me. (Before you get too concerned about #1, I gave away many of my ducks because I was concerned for my sanity plus I didn't want my duck-loving to define me).
Reading this book I learned a lot—some of which I touch on in the interview—and it was clear the author had also learned a great deal more than he had probably expected.
I was delighted to learn that the more famous book about rubber ducks—Eric Carle's Ten Little Rubber Ducks—is about the same instance, in which 28,800 bath toys were lost at sea.
I mentioned this to my older niece, who is nine and was wondering why I had both a big book about rubber ducks and a rubber duck I'd bought at a bookstore, a duck with a label, "Reader Duck" (to serve as a consultant for the interview). I explained to her what the big book was about and also about Carle's book and she summed up thusly: "So it's a shorter version?" Yes, major understatement.
That said, this book is fascinating and takes the reader places he or she is not expecting—I did not anticipate learning as much as I did about not just the origin (creation story) of rubber ducks but also about ocean currents, battles over how best to clean trash that travels the sea and that lands on shores, and related topics.
I suggest you check out this book. You don't even have to be interested in rubber duckies to find this interesting.
The author is a journalist whose work has been published in Harper's Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Outside and the Best Creative Nonfiction. His first child was born while he was working on this book.
Here are two excerpts to give you an idea of what is in the book:
"Let's draw a bath. Let's set a rubber duck afloat. Look at it wobbling there. What misanthrope, what damp, drizzly November of a sourpuss, upon beholding a rubber duck afloat, does not feel a Crayola ray of sunshine brightening his gloomy heart? Graphically, the rubber duck's closest relative is not a bird or a toy but the yellow happy face of Wal-Mart commercials. A rubber duck is in effect a happy face with a body and lips—which is what the beak of the rubber duck has become: great, lip-sticky, bee-stung lips. Both the happy face and the rubber duck reduce facial expressions to a kind of pictogram. They are both emoticons. And they are, of course, the same color- the yellow of an egg yolk or the eye of a daisy, a shade darker than a yellow raincoat, a shade lighter than a taxicab."