Duckworth the Difficult Child

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday! Here’s a refreshingly fun tale that turns the usual upside down. Next week author Michael Sussman will be back to share his take on the heart of humor! 


Title: Duckworth the Difficult Child

Written by: Michael Sussman

Illustrated by: Júlia Sardá

Simon & Schuster 2019

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/topics: imagination, parents

Duckworth was building a castle out of toothpicks when he heard a hissing sound.

Duckworth is a difficult child.
At least that’s what his parents think.

So when Duckworth tries to explain that a gigantic snake slithered out of his closet, his parents insist it’s all in his head—he is far too old to be imagining such nonsense. (And will he please do his chores?) But even when the cobra slides right up and swallows Duckworth whole, his parents remain unconvinced! (Where did he find that snake costume, and will he please put it away?)

What’s poor Duckworth to do when his parents just won’t listen? With nods to the deliciously dark humor of Edward Gorey, Florence Parry Heide, and Jon Klassen, Michael Sussman and Júlia Sardà empathize with children everywhere who must find ways to deal with their difficult parents.

Activities and Resources:
Writing: Look at the end of the book. Where do you think the snake goes? Write a story about what happens next.

Can you think of another solution to Duckworth’s predicament inside the snake?

Do you think Duckworth’s parents are being “difficult?” Have you ever had a friend or sibling that was being “difficult?” What did you do?

Why I like this book:
The text (You’ve got to love a character named Duckworth!) and art (I’m such a fan of Julia Sarda!) are a perfect match, and the characterization for this wonderfully unique child with oblivious parents is full of humor and heart. The story sets up a great contrast between parents and child. Duckworth might argue that truth really is stranger than fiction and that his parents’ lack of imagination is the real problem. Let’s face it – don’t we all think we’ve had difficult parents at one time or another? I love the end and hope you’ll find an opportunity to discover it yourself.


Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

3 thoughts on “Duckworth the Difficult Child

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