Cover image for Enslaved by ducks
Enslaved by ducks
Tarte, Bob.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, NC : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003.
Physical Description:
ix, 308 pages ; 23 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 8.0 17.0 79138.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SF416 .T37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
SF416 .T37 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The book that Entertainment Weekly called "hilarious," Publishers Weekly declared "a true pleasure," Booklist called "heartwarming," and the Dallas Morning News praised as "rich and funny" is now available in paperback.

When Bob Tarte bought a house in rural Michigan, he was counting on a tranquil haven. Then Bob married Linda. She wanted a rabbit, which seemed innocuous enough until the bunny chewed through their electrical wiring. And that was just the beginning. Before long, Bob found himself constructing cages, buying feed, clearing duck waste, and spoon-feeding a menagerie of furry and feathery residents. His life of quiet serenity vanished, and he unwittingly became a servant to a relentlessly demanding family. "They dumbfounded him, controlled and teased him, took their share of his flesh, stole his heart" ( Kirkus Reviews ).

Whether commiserating with Bob over the fate of those who are slaves to their animals or regarding his story as a cautionary tale about the rigors of animal ownership, readers on both sides of the fence have found Tarte's story of his chaotic squawking household irresistible--and irresistibly funny.

Author Notes

Bob Tarte is a freelance writer who has written for a number of publications, including The Beat magazine, the Boston Globe, the Whole Earth Review, and the Miami New Times. He lives in Lowell, Michigan, with his wife, Linda, and more animals than we can list here

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In charting how he went from the head of the household to the bottom of the pecking order, columnist Tarte (who usually writes about world music for The Beat magazine) reveals that he did not start life as an animal lover. Indifferent to his boyhood beagle and parakeet, he figured when his new wife began lobbying for a pet rabbit, it would be her pet, not his, and not too much trouble. But somehow, despite severed power cords and chewed woodwork, the rabbit wasn't enough. After a canary he received for Christmas wouldn't sit on his finger, he and his wife went shopping for a small parrot--which promptly bit him. It was all downhill from there, as Tarte's hilarious stories of the parade of animals that joined their household reveal. Cats, parakeets, ring-necked doves, ducks, geese, and turkeys all enter the author's life. Part Gerald Durrell and part Bill Bryson, this heartwarming book will find many readers among Rascal and That Quail, Robert devotees. --Nancy Bent Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Knowing little about animals, Tarte and his wife na?vely acquire Binky, an impish bunny, at an Easter bunny fair, little suspecting that it will soon dominate their lives and lead to a brigade of other winged and furred beasts. After Binky, they get a canary, then Ollie, an orange-chin pocket parrot, whom they return because he flings his water-logged food all over their floor and accosts them with calls and bites. Then they buy a more docile gray-cheek parakeet, which makes the Tartes realize they miss their raucous friend Ollie, whom they retrieve. Gluttons for punishment, the Tartes acquire a gender-confused African gray parrot named Stanley Sue, followed by ducks, geese, turkeys, parrots, starlings, more rabbits and cats. Every day brings an adventure or a tragedy (Ollie escapes; a duck gets eaten by a raccoon) to their Michigan country house. With dead-on character portraits, Tarte keeps readers laughing about unreliable pet store proprietors, a duck named Hector who doesn't like water, an amorous dove named Howard, a foster-mother goose, patient veterinarians and increasingly bewildered friends. Tarte has an ordinary-Joe voice that makes each chapter a true pleasure, while revealing a sophisticated vision of animals and their relationship to humans. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Tarte spent the first 38 years of his life as a city slicker and worked as a columnist for a reggae and world-music magazine. A move to the country and his wife's growing collection of indoor and outdoor animals soon changed Tarte's column into a collection of stories about the menagerie that was taking over his life. In his words: "Our animals have provided me with the only subject besides music that I've ever felt impassioned to write about." This book is Tarte's attempt to explain how his life came to be controlled by the wants and needs of bunnies, cats, and a variety of birds ranging from parrots to ducks, geese, and turkeys. With the good humor and positive outlook that can come only from having infinite patience and understanding, Tarte recounts some of his trials and tribulations, beginning with the arrival of Binky, a dwarf Dutch rabbit with destructive gnawing habits. Tarte misses the lesson on the folly of impulse buying and soon acquires a parrot named Ollie, who is so cantankerous that Tarte must return him after only three days. Not only did the author and his wife relent and reclaim Ollie but they even acquired other parrots, with equally disturbing results. This light and witty diversion is highly recommended for those who appreciate the value of good humor and a positive outlook on life.-Edell Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-A cast of characters listed in the front-along with all of the veterinarians consulted-helps to keep straight the bewildering number of animals, mostly avian and each with a personality of its own, that populates this amusing book. Newly married Michiganders Bob and Linda Tarte moved to the country per her desire, and soon she talked him into acquiring a rabbit to add to their two cats. Despite the bunny's bad attitude, one animal led to another, until there were more of them than you can shake a bird perch at. Tarte was sometimes hard-pressed to name them all, since they encompassed ducks, bunnies, cats, doves, canaries, turkeys, parrots, starlings, geese, and parakeets. While teens might not want to own any of these noisy and often bad-tempered beasts, reading about their foibles-and the foibles of the people from whom they were acquired-is great fun, thanks to the author's sly sense of humor and willingness to poke good-natured fun at himself, his wife, and their menagerie. Potential pet owners who think that caring for one or two animals would be a walk in the park will find this book extremely useful reading. In fact, they might have second thoughts about a trip to the pet store. Other readers will chuckle at the situations presented, and pet owners will no doubt identify with them.-Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Cast of Charactersp. viii
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Belligerent Binkyp. 9
Chapter 2 Ollie Takes Overp. 28
Chapter 3 Stanley Sue's Identity Crisisp. 45
Chapter 4 Howard the Clumsy Romeop. 67
Chapter 5 The Real Trouble Beginsp. 89
Chapter 6 A Wild Duck Chasep. 110
Chapter 7 Raccoon Rustlersp. 127
Chapter 8 Enslaved by Ducksp. 146
Chapter 9 Creatures of Habitp. 169
Chapter 10 Let's Talk Turkeyp. 189
Chapter 11 Who Cooks for You?p. 209
Chapter 12 Comings and Goingsp. 226
Chapter 13 Hazel Eyesp. 250
Chapter 14 Weaver in the Weedsp. 271
Chapter 15 The Parrot Who Hated Mep. 291
Acknowledgments and Culpabilityp. 310