DAVID READS "Ducky Wucky" to fellow Saint Gregory's students. There will be a book signing at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany June 14, 6 p.m., with all proceeds going to Community Hospice. For more information, email carrollc32@aol.com.
DAVID READS "Ducky Wucky" to fellow Saint Gregory's students. There will be a book signing at The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany June 14, 6 p.m., with all proceeds going to Community Hospice. For more information, email carrollc32@aol.com.
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Ten-year-old David Carroll will probably cherish his illustrations for a new children's book written by his mother for a long time. The book, "Ducky Wucky," humorously tells the tale of an eight-year-old girl's escapades with her pet duck.

The girl was David's grandmother, Anna McCormick, who died in April at the age of 78 after battling colon cancer since December. She saw the finished book before her passing.

"She was very proud of it," said David's mother, Claudia. "I think she was pleased that there was going to be a lasting memory of her. It was something special."

David, a fourth-grader at Saint Gregory's School in Loudonville, agreed: "I think she liked it."

Feathered friend
Mrs. Carroll and David decided to collaborate on the book after flipping through Mrs. McCormick's photo albums and hearing the story of the duck, which was paper-trained, walked on a leash down the streets of Queens and "sang" along with its owner.

"David was enthralled with the story," Mrs. Carroll said.

"I just thought it was funny," David explained.

Originally intended to be a gift for Mrs. McCormick and a few friends, "Ducky Wucky" turned into a fundraiser for The Community Hospice in Saratoga, where she lived out her last days.

"They were tremendous," Mrs. Carroll said. "They're loving and caring and an emotional support for our family during a very difficult time. They think of everything when you're not thinking of anything [because] the grief is so overwhelming."

It's characteristic of the Carrolls to give back to the community: Alongside his parents, David has volunteered at the Regional Food Bank, sponsored needy children in the Philippines, set aside allowance money for charities, shopped for Christmas presents for other children and sent care packages to soldiers in Afghanistan. The family creates "birthday bags" for a food pantry near their Clifton Park home; David's classes have adopted the idea, too.

"What we do at home is also done here at school," Mrs. Carroll said. "It's just part of who we are. David probably doesn't even think about it."

But he does: "It's good to help other people because other people don't always get help," David said. "It feels good. Jesus was nice to people, and we're being nice to people by giving them stuff."

Flying high
When he's not volunteering, David takes art, piano, tennis and archery lessons, plays the snare drum at school, participates in Y-Guides with his father and enjoys graphic novels and video games. He's so passionate about art that he's already contemplating a special art and design high school and has all but declared a college major in animation. When he was eight, he won a CDPHP holiday card contest.

It took him several hours over the course of a weekend to illustrate "Ducky Wucky," using a finger-painting application on his iPad.

"It was hard to do on the app," David said. "It's not my best [work], but I still like it. A lot of people like it, [which] feels pretty good."

He's read the story to some of the lower grades at Saint Gregory's. A family friend who's a special education teacher at Shenendehowa Central Schools wants to use it as a teaching tool.

Mrs. Carroll said her son's illustrations made the story "really fun and bright and exciting" for young children. Mother and son may team up on another book.

David is a greeter at St. Edward's parish in Clifton Park; he looks forward to being an altar server. Mrs. Carroll said faith "helped sustain us throughout this whole process," adding that the pastor of St. Mary's parish in Albany gave her mother the Sacrament of the Sick and serendipitously carried a duck umbrella at Mrs. McCormick's burial.

"[My mother] never doubted a minute where she was headed," the author said. "She knew she was going to a better place."