In the 1935 edition of Plouf the Wild Duck, we’re ushered into the birth of the little protagonist by way of his mother’s reverie on the changes of the moon during her stay on the nest with her eggs. That is the first phase of this carefully observed little saga which is always about heading skyward.

One of his brothers being injured by an attack of migrating coots, Plouf’s mother stays behind in hopes the injured youngster will recover. And Plouf, “very troubled,” departs with “new companions.” The mother duck says, “You are strong and brave. I’m content knowing you are free and happy. You will see in your flight many wonders. The world is exciting, the world is beautiful…”

The author of these stories, clearly even more rewarding to parents than to their children, is someone called Lida. (The great designs are by Rojan.) You can’t get anything out of Google about her (him); but you can surely derive a lifetime of rare pleasures from the books themselves.
These works are not about the vacuous feeding frenzies catered to by children’s literature today; nor do they particularly attend to making nice and victimhood. Take, for instance, the gloriously illustrated Scaf the Seal (1936), which opens with a group of seal pups playing vigorously in the waters off Greenland.

Our little protagonist loves his home, taking time to appreciate the perpetual darkness of winter, which endows these wild things with the stunning beauty of the starry sky.

Many of Scaf’s companions are killed by predators like sharks, polar bears and humans.

After a winter full of struggles, the little tribe finds a glacial island and spends a happy summer there. The old leader dies and Scaf becomes the new leader, “governing his troupe wisely.”

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