• Happy birthday Remy Charlip (Arm in Arm) and Max Grover (The Accidental Zucchini).
  • It’s the birth date of both Charles Ingalls (1836–1902) father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and of her sister, Mary Ingalls (1865–1928). Read any of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  • In 1776, Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense. Read Thomas Paine: Common Sense and Revolutionary Pamphleteering by Brian McCartin.
  • John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil in 1870. Read Oil Spill! by Melvin Berger.
  • It’s Peculiar People Day. Read The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter.
  • National Clean Off Your Desk Day is always the second Monday in January. Read My Teacher Dances on the Desk by Eugene Gagliono.

On January 10, 1992, a cargo of around 29,000 rubber toys—including ducks, beavers, turtles, and frogs—fell overboard from a container ship in the northern Pacific Ocean. Some eventually landed on a remote coast of Alaska. In Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion author Loree Griffin Burns explains what actually happened to these objects, following the work of Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who tracked the toys around the world.

But our book of the day, and author/artist of the day, is a bit more whimsical in his approach to the events of January 10, 1992. Eric Carle has always said that he is never happier than when he is painting the collage papers that he uses to build his artwork. In 10 Little Rubber Ducks, he once again shares his joy with readers as he imagines what the journey of the rubber ducks on that container ship might have been like. He shows the ducks being built, put into boxes, loaded on the ship, and getting dumped into the big wide sea.

Drawing on what he does best—the depiction of fish, birds, and mammals; all creatures great and small—Eric shows each of the ten ducks encountering different creatures, from a polar bear to a flamingo. A whale sings to the ninth rubber duck. But he saves for the tenth the best fate of all, being adopted by a mother duck and becoming part of a family. I know I feel a lot better about the world after reading this reassuring book. It shows that difficult situations can be survived and have happy endings. If for any reason you need further entertaining, a squeak device for the rubber duck has been built into the last page of the book. He certainly sounds happy.

Few have ever shown the joy and enthusiasm about life on this planet as brilliantly as Eric Carle. After a brief childhood in the United States, he was taken with his German parents back to Hitler’s Germany. Brutally disciplined in school, Eric knew personally what it meant to move from joy to difficulty. But much like his rubber ducks, he found a happy ending, a home back in the United States, painting and drawing his collage masterpieces that give both adults and children so much joy.

With Rubber Duckie Day occurring on the thirteenth of this month, you might want to get out yours and read 10 Little Rubber Ducks. For me the world always seems a kinder, gentler place after I finish any book by Eric Carle.

Here’s a page from 10 Little Rubber Ducks:


Originally posted January 10, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Adventure, Animals, Ducks, Toys
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for 10 Little Rubber Ducks


  1. Wow. There’s a Rubber Duckie day? Very cool. That’s one of our favorite Eric Carle books as well. I’ll have to dig it out.

  2. G.Perry says:

    With the help of two librarian pals, I got hands on this and read it today.

    This is a wonderful book. It’s just delightfully kind and poetic. I found myself smiling on every page.

    I think I have to buy it.


  3. Sallie says:

    Wonderful book by a wonderful person! But I also remember an earlier book on the exact same subject by Eve Bunting, Ducky, with David Wiesniewski illustrations.

  4. Star says:

    I firmly believe that no child’s book collection is complete without a healthy number of Eric Carle books!

  5. Thank you for another day of great information! I love this book but had forgotten it was based on a real event. I also didn’t know about Eric Carle’s childhood–I’m so glad he made it through and came back to the US to share his art.

  6. Beverly says:

    Love Eric Carle! I didn’t know that his family had moved back to Germany. Talk about rising above your circumstances. His books are a joy. Unfortunately, our copy of “10 Little Rubber Ducks” is out so I’ll have to wait to reread it.

  7. I just discovered this website and it is a joy to read. This is one of my kids favorite books, partly because of the squeaker at the end! I love books based on real, little known, historical events.

  8. G. Perry says:

    Dear Mr. Carle;

    I’ve worn out my copy of 10 little Rubber Ducks. Too much bathtub time.

    I am buying another.

    Kindest regards –

    P.S.I’m not a little kid. I’m a big kid.


  9. Love this book and love using it with Eve Bunting’s Ducky – with illustrations by David Wisniewski. Wisniewski’s illustrations are his trademark cut-paper collage and both the story and illustrations make a great companion title for this one with Carle’s cut tissue paper collages. Both titles have a place on my library shelves.

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