Maria's Duck Tales

Wildlife Stories From My Garden

Non-Fiction - Animals
108 Pages
Reviewed on 03/05/2012
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Mother, grandmother, passionate about native gardens, birds, wildlife and collies, award-winning author, artist and columnist ... believer in fairies ...

Maria, a passionate gardener and wildlife enthusiast, invites and welcomes all wildlife into her garden. Her extensive native and natural garden, certified as a wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, as well as a Monarch Way-Station by Monarch Watch, has been on display in several East End garden tours.

She lives in East Quogue with her collie Christie and all of her "wild-friends."

Maria's Duck Tales, her first book, has already won nineteen awards in diverse genres.

Maria writes a weekly community column, "From Fourth Neck," for the Western Edition of The Southampton Press.

Her essays have appeared in The Press Box in both the Eastern and Western Editions of The Southampton Press, as well as in The Press of Manorville and Moriches. Her wildlife stories have also appeared in the South Shore Monthly, the Great South Bay Magazine and In the Eyes of the Wild: An Anthology of Wildlife Poetry and Short Stories.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite

"Maria's Duck Tales" is a wonderful glimpse into the lives of the wildlife that ventured into the author's life. Each chapter is a different story about an animal that was fortunate enough to encounter Maria. Each chapter is a quick easy read that is like a breath of fresh air on a rainy day. When I first picked up the book to read I imagined that I would just be reading the observations of the wildlife that the author encountered. Instead she often goes hands-on with her wildlife friends, giving me an up close glimpse of her interactions with them. Her interactions often save the lives of the animals she encounters. While there are stories of ducks, the author also includes stories about squirrels, opossums, swans and even mentions her beloved collie a few times. I enjoyed reading how the animals would become a real part of her family. She always gave them names which made them so relatable.

As an avid fan of nature I loved this book. The author gives a true glimpse of the wildlife she encounters, but, more than that, as I read each chapter I also learned a bit about the habits of each animal - from the way they care for their babies to the foods they like to eat. The illustrations, peppered through the pages of this book, really stand out and also allow the reader a glimpse of the animal she is describing. I think any observer of nature will certainly enjoy reading this book, but I would recommend it to those who never have the opportunity to connect with nature because the author has the wonderful ability to make you feel like you are right there with her, watching the antics of the wildlife she encounters. This book is certainly a keeper for me. I plan on rereading the stories often. On a scale of one to five I would easily give this book a six because it's just that good!

Stephanie D.

"Maria’s Duck Tales: Wildlife Stories From My Garden," by Maria Daddino, is exactly what the title suggests - a collection of acutely observed accounts of the antics of this author’s favorite birds. But we are not limited to ducks. There are stories about other “wild-friends” including ospreys, Fatso the squirrel, Sara Beth and Diablo the swans, and Misty and Gypsy the collies. There are mentions too of opossums, groundhogs and deer. But the ducks, the Muscovies and the Pekins, are undeniably the stars. One of the most entertaining parts of the book is about gardening with ducks. Or rather trying to! Ducks can be very destructive and it speaks volumes about Daddino’s patience that she can still love her ducks despite their misdeeds in her adored garden. The author’s sense of humor abounds in many of her names for the ducks - Peanut, Big Whitey, Ghostie and Mr. and Mrs. Whiney.

In the “Introduction,” Daddino says that her “musings” are about one woman’s attempts to combine the pleasures of gardening, the joys of wildlife and the rewards of establishing a balanced mini ecosystem. She certainly achieves this and readers are entertained and educated along the way. There is humor and adventure in the tales, but also sadness at times. However, the author seems never overly-sentimental. Instead, she respects and admires the creatures around her that touch her life, and communicates both their charm and her fascination with them in her writing. There are beautiful color illustrations by Steve Ensign. A table of contents and index might have been nice additions, but on the whole, this is a polished and impressive book.

Rita V

“Maria's Duck Tales; Wildlife Stories From My Garden” is a wonderful collection of inspiring animal stories written by author Maria Daddino. Maria resides on the happy shores of Penataquit Creek where she has created a beautiful garden. Maria's garden is her sanctuary and her passion in life. It is a place where she can dream and truly be happy. Maria has her own wildlife habitat that includes: ducks, deer, turkeys, pheasants, bunnies, fox, blue herons, ospreys, squirrels, opossums and groundhogs. Her garden magically comes to life with all of her special creatures, combined with the beauty of colorful flowers and herbs. Maria even has names for most of her furry friends including: George the groundhog; Sara Beth and Diablo the swans, Fatso the squirrel, Peanut who is a duck dear to Maria's heart and a Muscovy duck, Patches the diva duck and Ghostie the Pekin duck. Maria helps to rehabilitate her special wildlife animals with the help of her veterinarian and wildlife friends when necessary. This is Maria's true life story about how her garden inspires her life on a daily basis as she is graced by all of God's beautiful creations that surround her.

Maria Daddino writes a very inspiring and uplifting true story about the beautiful things that surround us all if we take the time to watch and listen patiently. Each chapter holds a unique and rare glimpse into the life of one of her precious wildlife creatures, and how they touch her life deeply with their nurturing skills and unique antics. The artwork is amazingly done and brings the book to life by complimenting the wording perfectly. Each wildlife sketch resembles an artwork worthy of being framed and displayed proudly. I absolutely loved each story and, being a wildlife enthusiast myself, I could sincerely appreciate and relate to each chapter. In fact, I didn't want to put the book down, I wanted to keep reading to find out what Maria's next wildlife adventure would be! Maria delicately reminds us of God's beauty that surrounds us and how we need to help those less fortunate, including precious animals. This is a very well written and beautifully illustrated book by a real wildlife advocate, rehabilitator and hero. Very well done Maria Daddino!

Alice D.

Author Maria Daddino grew up in Brooklyn where there were cement streets and no gardens but somehow she always loved nature. When, as an adult, she moved out onto Long Island, she made the backyard of her home into a wildlife sanctuary and shares with the readers here in "Maria's Duck Tales," her joys and sorrows, her adventures with the ducks and other animals that made her home and yard their home. The author writes of Robert J., Peanut, Patches, Jack, Ducky, the Whineys, her beloved ducks, of Fatso the squirrel, Sara Beth and Diablo the swans, the mother opossum and her babies and the ospreys who insisted upon nesting in a nearby dredging company's cranes. The numerous mellow, colored illustrations that accompany the text add to the joy and love in this story. Maria Daddino tells of attempting to grow vegetables in pots, behind fencing, to protect them from her ducks. Did she succeed? Who actually ate the ripened peppers?

"Maria's Duck Tales" is an enchantingly well-written book with beautiful, colorful pictures accompanying each chapter. The author obviously is a nature expert for her backyard Wildlife Sanctuary was certified by the National Wildlife Federation in 2001. She knows how to make foods and shelters that her fostered babies adapt to quite well with a few amusing asides that she writes of with gentle humor. Author Daddino shares with the readers her knowledge of what to do with the many ducks who have lived in her sanctuary over the years. Her information is accurate, the book itself is well edited and formatted, making it a highly welcome addition to library and bookstore shelves everywhere, as well as in private collections of nature lovers or would-be nature lovers. "Maria's Duck Tales" is a charmer and has earned its place along with other great non-fiction books about animals.

Anne B.

Maria Daddino, author of “Maria’s Duck Tales: Wildlife Stories From My Garden,” shares a collection of short stories with readers. Her tales will bring tears, smiles, happiness and occasionally sadness. Steve Ensign provided the fanciful illustrations for this book. Maria’s garden is a special place filled with delicious vegetables, delightful smelling herbs and flowers with bright colors. Butterflies drink from the blooms, birds sings in the trees and I’m sure at night she hears the song of the crickets. In Maria’s garden you will find rabbits, ducks, turkeys, deer and numerous other critters. Like Maria I have a wildlife garden behind my home. I love watching the deer late in the evenings, the turkeys early in the morning, and the squirrels as they romp and play all day long.

In “Summer’s Gift” she recounts the memory of a pair of ospreys building their home across the creek from her home. The young family built their nest in a crane belonging to the dredging company. She was fascinated watching the majestic male gather dead branches to increase the size of the nest and catch a fish to share with his mate. “A Special Place In My Heart” is the story of raising two orphaned baby squirrels. The little guys outgrew one box after another before she placed a special nest outside for them. Even after release “Fatso” stayed close by for the free peanuts for almost three years.

I have so enjoyed this small book. My favorite story concerned the diva duck, Patches. It reminded me of our pet duck, Howard. Ms. Daddino has a talent for painting a picture with words. I could see Grace, Robert, Jack and all of the other delightful critters in her back yard. Her story telling talents are unsurpassed. I hope she will continue to share stories from her back yard.

Joana J

Maria's Duck Tales is a lovely little book filled with stories that warm the heart, make you want to laugh and sometimes cry. This is a record of one woman's experiences as she cares for the loveable wildlife in her own back yard. The ducks, geese, squirrels and dogs that called her yard home all had a story to tell. I was easily transported into Maria's world. I could envision angry geese honking trying to protect their nest and anxious little baby ducks pecking at her legs for "duck soup." I think it's remarkable that one person could open up their world to wild life and then share that world with the rest of us. Even the "war" for her vegetable garden warmed my heart and I was happy when she found a suitable solution.

Maria's Duck Tales is well written, well balanced, well illustrated and an excellent read. The stories flow nicely and I even found myself recognizing the animals’ names. I cheered them on when they were sick and hoped that she'd find the ones who were lost. This book was quite enjoyable and would make an excellent read for a leisure afternoon. I'm sure many animal lovers would be happy to hear the tales of her furry and feathery friends. I'm happy that this lady found a way to live alongside nature and even help it along. Perhaps this book will inspire others to do the same. I highly recommend this book.

Midwest Book Revue


In the simple world of the garden, life tries to make its way through. "Maria's Duck Tales: Wildlife Stories from My Garden" is a collection of memories from Maria Daddino as she presents animal tales from her home and gardens, with a touch of humor and poignancy. Duck Tales" is a strong pick for wildlife-themed memoir collections, recommended.

Kirkus Reviews

This endearing collection of stories takes count of the wildlife that populates Daddino’s gardens.

In addition to the exploits of a few other creatures, Daddino’s first book focuses mostly on the Muscovy duck community that made its home around the creek where Daddino lived in Bay Shore, N.Y., on the southern coast of Long Island. Thanks to the balance of awe and familiarity that Daddino conveys, her relationship to the creatures is immediately compelling. From the outset, she admits to having an overwhelming love for animals but also an understanding that they should be self-sufficient. One winter, she raised squirrels in a cage in her basement, not naming them to make it easier to set them free when spring arrives. She brought the ducklings into her house to warm them on only the coldest, wettest nights, and the ospreys she marveled at from afar. While this book spotlights delightful and surprising human exchanges with the animals, external human influences create some tension: ospreys nest atop a crane in a neighboring dredging company, ducks get lost under trucks and swans leave their lovers under the docks. How Daddino manages to have a fertile garden with all these ducks around isn’t addressed until nearly the end, as an aside, which doesn’t prove too insightful. The whimsical color illustrations scattered throughout seem to be asking for a younger audience, perhaps with pared down text, bigger pages, more pictures and more attention to story. On the other hand, with more reflection and careful editing, it could make a strong memoir.

Charming yet loosely connected, like random journal entries.