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Duck, Death and the Tulip

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  2,347 ratings  ·  378 reviews
In a strangely heart-warming story, a duck strikes up an unlikely friendship with Death. Death, Duck and the Tulip will intrigue, haunt and enchant readers of all ages. Simple, unusual, warm and witty, this book deals with a difficult subject in a way that is elegant, straightforward, and thought-provoking.
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Gecko Press (first published 2006)
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Average rating 4.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,347 ratings  ·  378 reviews

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Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture

Death is pretty gentle.

But He's still death.
(view spoiler)
Catherine Nichols
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is not your usual picture book about death. The story is simple. Death, wearing a fashionably long plaid coat and bearing a black tulip, comes to stay with Duck. Understandably nervous, Duck asks, "Are you going to make something happen?" But no. "Life takes care of that," Death tells her. The two pal around, going to the pond, perching high in a tree. Duck wonders about dying and Death listens to her speculate. Winter comes, and one night Duck lies down. She does not get up. Death gently p ...more
Phoebe Ledster
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An incredible read. An ironically heartwarming and comforting message is prominent within this unique picture book. The illustrations are exceptionally memorable and suit the style of the book perfectly- it provides a beautiful opportunity to discuss the topic of death with children without it being daunting or frightening but rather more gentle and comforting.
A touching picture book about a duck who befriends death and they peacefully live together before the duck finally dies.

I'd primarily recommend it for grownups though.
Marina Ponomaryova
“Some ducks say that deep in the earth there’s a place where you’ll be roasted if you haven’t been good.”
“You ducks come up with some amazing stories, but who knows?”
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
‘Duck, Death and the Tulip’ written and illustrated by German author Wolf Erlbruch synthesises the presentation of human, animal and nature forms and sensitively presents death through metaphorical pictures as the eponymous title suggests. The picture book offers all types of readers the opportunity to learn about death in a unique and accessible way whilst presenting death in the form of a character carrying a black tulip which begins to naturally die along with the Duck, as the story progresse ...more
Dec 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-wsu
I don't know what I was expecting, I didn't read the blurb but requested it at work after a colleague told me about it. Is this literary fiction for children?! Death is a dark subject of course, but I'm not sure I'd read this to my 5 year old. It's a great concept. Just not for me. It's not harmful, but quite confronting, as are the illustrations. This would be excellent for the right time, a good resource for the subject of death. ...more
Mar 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
Now translated into English, Death, Duck and Tulip.
Well after I found my way into the 'issues' section at the library searching for childrens laureate Anthony Browne I came across this book.Id heard the title recently after a librarian friend told me how they had ordered several of them to help children deal with death, but after reading them they had doubts they would be appropriate for children. The blurb says adults and teenagers and I think that if intended for younger age groups extreme cau
25/52 books read in 2019.

I just had to re-read because it is so precious & I still haven't brought it back to the library.
My review still stands.

20/52 books read in 2019.

EN: I absolutely adore this picture book. It is short, sweet, and the illustrations are beautiful. I think it would be the perfect way to explain a sudden passing or death in general to children. The entire book feels incredibly peaceful and I think that is incredibly important when you inform a child about this natural process
Harriet Mitchell
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an excellent conversation starter. It covers the topic of death in a simple and effective way. It provides the reader(s) a safe space to discuss the difficult subject matter.

Simply taking just a picture or double page spread could be a way to initiate discussion with others. It could link to RE and different views of life after death.

Considering how simple the text and images are, there is an incredible amount you can take from them. The use of blank space and of colour are also use
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a stunningly put together little book. Poignant and deep, but gently so - likely a wonderful way to broach a difficult topic with a child, and lovely to read as an adult.
Feb 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yep, picture books can still make me teary eyed.
Ellie L
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Erlbruch opens a window into aging and the cycle of life and death in this stunning picture book, which extends into an unlikely friendship between two characters named Duck and Death. There is something so touching about the warmth to which Duck welcomes Death, despite the associations and fears surrounding the character. Perhaps even more affecting is the flicker of mourning that Death feels for Duck after his passing, regardless of being possibly desensitized by such a process.
The gentlene
James Tostevin
This is easily one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. The portrayal of how one can make friends with death and is not something to fear has truly stuck with me. Such a powerful message and I can’t recommend this book highly enough!
Kate Yates
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A strangely popular book in our house but I'm still trying to work out the meaning. The one I have come up with I don't share with my 6-yr old and that is that life is scarier and more dangerous than death! ...more
Chance Lee
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-it
Moving and profound, a brilliant book that tackles a complex subject with elegant simplicity in its text, illustrations, and design. A true work of art.
Lubna Qanber
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I died!
That was really warm and sad and... and... I don't even know :'-(
Edward Sullivan
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Life embraces death in this wonderfully witty, profoundly moving, elegantly crafted story.
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Found this via Brain Pickings. It's very fucking cute in a macabre way. ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heather by: Erin
I originally read this picture book (which was originally published in German in 2007) back in April, when I was visiting a dear friend in New Zealand. I was in the middle of a break-up and was feeling pretty overwhelmingly sad, and she had this book checked out from the library and left it outside the door of the room I was staying in for me to read. I read it, and liked it, enough that I kept thinking about it and eventually checked it out from the library back home in Brooklyn.

The art is rea
Macey Giberson
This story was well portrayed in a way that is friendly for children to read and comprehend. In this story, the way the narrator illustrates death is through a child-like body, but the image of a skeleton to replace it. By doing this, the author and illustrating present death to be seen as a human and make sure that the children realize that everyone and everything will eventually experience death. However, it is not something to be scared of this is because it is only there to support you as yo ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
We're not entirely sure how to feel about this particular book, it follows the story of a duck who one day realises that death is following her and they form a somewhat simplistic friendship where Duck speculates about what happens after death and Death allows her to without offering any specifics.

We can say that is does cover the subject of death very effectively despite the simple way in which the story is conveyed. Would probably leave this story until children are old enough to have an awar
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure what to make of this book. I think it makes a bold attempt at dealing with death, in a way that presents children with the truth. The characterof death is not to be feared, but simply a part of life.

Its very 'to the point', so it is definitely one to think carefully about before sharing with children. That being said, some parents/teachers may find it a valuable tool when dealing with loss and inquisitive little minds.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: year-4, year-3
Good book to do with death. I think the character of the duck addresses some of the ideas of what happens after death. I think it's very explicit story that children will find interesting and create discussion. I would recommend this book to children. ...more
Callum McAllister
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty melancholy picture book. One for the goth-kids.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The nicest, calmest book about death for children (ages 10 and up?) I’ve ever seen. It is elegant and lovely.
Luke Nicholls
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Poignant and beautiful book about death, for young children. Not really a sentence I ever thought I'd write. ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the artwork in this oddly sweet little story about death.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Short and delightful!
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a poignant little story. I loved the illustrations as well - I'm inspired by this artist's style! ...more
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Wolf Erlbruch (born 1949 in Wuppertal, Germany) is an award-winning illustrator and writer of children's books. He combines various techniques for the artwork in his books, including cutting and pasting, drawing, and painting. His style is sometimes surrealist and is widely copied inside and outside Germany, and some of his story books discuss adult topics such as death and the meaning of life. Th ...more

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“For a long time he watched her. When she was lost to sight, he was almost a little moved. But that's life, thought death.” 11 likes
“Ibland kunde döden läsa tankar.
– När du är död är också dammen borta – åtminstone för dig.
– Är du alldeles säker på det, frågade Anden förvånat.
– Så säker som på någonting annat, sa Döden.
– Det är bra. Då behöver jag inte sörja över den när...
– ...du är död, sa Döden.”
More quotes…