We first meet Tufty as he and his family (he’s the youngest duckling) swim in a lake in the grounds of what appears to be Buckingham Palace. Tufty we are told, has trouble keeping up with the others. The Royal residents (Mother Duck calls them the Royal Duck and Duckess) feed the ducks during their morning walk by the lake; but with the advent of colder days and nights, Father Duck tells his offspring that it will soon be time to fly south to warmer climes.
Soon after, they’re on their way, but Tufty, unable to keep pace with the rest, is left behind and worse, his view of his family is blocked by the towering city skyscrapers. Exhausted, the duckling lands on what to him looks like an island amid the traffic and there he meets a homeless man. Leaving the roaring traffic behind, the man takes Tufty to his makeshift home and there cares for him and feeds him all through the winter. When spring finally comes, Tufty, now much bigger and stronger is ready to make the flight back to the royal lake, so when he spies his family flying overhead, he joins them. Back in the palace gardens he finds a mate and not long after, the two of them return to the lake in the woods and are warmly received by the kindly man once more.
This is a thoroughly satisfying tale of warmth and caring: why one wonders is it so often those who have least to give, who are ready to share what little they have. As always Foreman’s eloquent watercolour and pencil illustrations are truly beautiful, offering as they do, a constantly changing vista from expansive cityscape to zoomed-in close up of Tufty and his family as they huddle up together for warmth.