Tuesday, August 19, 2008

INTERVIEW with LAURA BACKMAN, author of LEMON THE DUCK

LEMON THE DUCK
by LAURA BACKMAN


Based on the inspirational true story of the Pekin duck born in an elementary school classroom.

Ms. Lake and her class conduct an egg-hatching project in school and on the big day, welcome four little ducklings into the world. The students soon realize that the soft yellow one they named Lemon looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but can’t stand up and walk like a duck. They worry that Lemon won't be happy if she can't do all the things ducks love to do, and work together to help Lemon thrive. Through caring for Lemon, the students share in her victories and learn that acceptance, love, and extra special care can go a long way. They also come to understand that her difference doesn’t make Lemon any less special.

Author Laura Backman and the real Lemon live in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Learn more at http://www.lemontheduck.com/.

What drove you to adopt Lemon?

Shortly after Lemon hatched, I had her assessed by several veterinarians. They agreed that Lemon’s condition was permanent. The good news was that she was not in any pain and she really seemed to be a happy little girl, despite her challenges.

I searched out Sanctuaries that could care for her properly…I quickly realized that they were not prepared to care for an animal that needed such extensive care. That just wouldn’t do for this wonderful animal with such a zest for life. With the guidance of Kim Link at the Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, I was able to provide Lemon with the proper nutrition and care that she needed.

Why did you choose to share Lemon’s story with others?

First, I think Lemon is an inspiration. She is a spunky, loveable creature who never lets her challenges get her down.

I also wanted people to see that all life is precious, and one’s quality of life is so important. I wanted children to know that they can make a difference in someone’s life. Lemon’s story is a “safe” way to talk about disabilities, to ask questions, and brainstorm ways to make a difference in someone else’s life. Lemon provides those teachable moments for kids.

Finally, I also wanted to honor my dad who recently passed away from MS. He was a wonderful man, father, and inspiration. Lemon’s story is dedicated to him.

How did Lemon’s presence help after your father’s death?

I feel that by giving Lemon the best life she can have, I am continuing to honor him. I know he would be very proud of how I am caring for Lemon. He and Lemon share some of the same symptoms, and I know that helping my dad has made me a better caregiver for Lemon.

When I was younger, and long before my dad was diagnosed with MS, we had 21 pet ducks. I remember my dad taking me to get our first two ducks – Diana and Daffy. I have such wonderful memories of my childhood “ducky days”. Lemon reminds me of him and those times.

How do you bring Lemon to school?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have administrators that see the value in having Lemon interact with the students. Lemon comes to school with me in her basket and she gets to visit the students in some of the classrooms and at recess.

How do the students react to Lemon?


They are always excited to see Lemon. She’s happy to see them too. The students come to greet her and give her some love. Sometimes I put her in her scooter and they crouch down and encourage her to walk around the blacktop with them.

In the classroom some of the children give her “massages” or read her stories. They are always looking for the latest update on Lemon. One of our favorite classrooms to visit is the intensive special needs classrooms. The children enjoy her visits and I think she helps provide an opportunity for them to practice social interactions.

Has adopting Lemon changed your life in other ways?


Oh boy has it! I never would have believed that a duck could rule the house until Lemon. I’ve even learned to understand “duck language”. Lemon has different quacks for different commands she gives me. And, believe me, I follow them!

For the most part I’ve always been a pretty shy person, but you can’t get away with that with a duck by your side. Wherever Lemon is, there’s usually a crowd. I’ve become her spokesperson.

I’ve definitely come to have an appreciation of the amount of time, caring, and emotion that it takes to care for a handicapped animal.

Does Lemon have any idiosyncratic habits?

My favorite one is when Lemon wakes me in the middle of the night for kisses on her bill. And she loves to be cuddled and petted. You would normally think a duck would avoid people. Not Lemon – she loves people. She especially enjoys swimming with children. When Lemon sees other birds and ducks, she is interested in them, but prefers her “people” friends.

What are Lemon’s favorite hobbies?

Swimming, swimming, swimming, preening, preening, preening!
How old is Lemon now?
Lemon was born on April 11th, 2006, so she is about 2 ½ years old.
Do you have any other interesting stories you'd like to share about Lemon?

I do, but you’ll have to wait to read about them in Lemon’s next book!

1 comment:

6traits said...

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