Review: Polly and her Duck Costume

Goats of Anarchy (GoA) sounds like a bikie gang, but it’s actually an adorable special needs goat rescue organisation based in New Jersey. The sanctuary’s is one of my favourite social media accounts, and I am comprehensively invested in its residents’ lives.

One of those residents is Polly, a blind goat whose neurological and separation anxiety issues are becalmed by a duck onesie. No, really. Polly’s story went viral a while back.

Unable to see and worried she had been left behind if left alone for even a moment, Polly would freak out and pace about and chew the wall. The GoA team taught Polly the shapes of the rooms so she could navigate them easily, but it was separation rather than navigation that troubled her most.

Polly found comfort when tightly wrapped in a blanket, but blankets, as GoA founder Leanne Lauricella notes, fall off. They especially fall off active goats. Enter a random duck onesie, put on as a whim but immediately apparent to be a hit. Swaddled in it, Polly was soon happily asleep, free from anxiety and fear.

Polly and her Duck Costume: The True Story of a Little Blind Rescue Goat is the book about Polly and this viral-worthy, heart-warming tale that Lauricella has published with (presumably writer) Saskia Lacey and illustrated by Jill Howarth.

Simple, straightforward, and unaffected, the book’s words are fine but not brilliant. This isn’t a book that will win awards for its ability to transport readers through powerfully wrought prose. But that’s ok, really, because the book’s magic is in the unlikely, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction feelgood story itself. Also, the illustrations are wonderful, depicting Polly gallivanting about as perfectly on the page as could be hoped.

The book also contains images of Polly, lending some real-life context and leaping-off point to the tale. I’d be surprised if few people who read the book don’t pick up their phones to google the story and subscribe to GoA’s social media channels.

As a side note, Polly and her Duck Costume goes some way to filling an infuriating gap in children’s book options in that it doesn’t gloss over the fact animals have often had some pretty brutal experiences at the hands of humans. From Old MacDonald Had a Farm and beyond, children’s books for some reason constantly portray farm animals as having ‘bucolic’ experiences, which cannot be further from the truth in this factory farm-based society.

But I digress. Polly and her Duck Costume impresses and, at the very least, gets you thinking about how animals are people too. I’d recommend this book as a much-needed alternative to traditional children’s books.