Sunday, July 11, 2010

2000 Caldecott Honor

The Ugly Duckling

Adapted by Jerry Pinkney

This is an outstanding adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic! The illustrations by Jerry Pinkney are extremely detailed and absolutely beautiful. Stunning images from Mr. Pinkney are something that his readers have come to expect. He certainly does not disappoint with this effort. As I was reading, I found myself studying the artwork before turning each page.

The Ugly Duckling is a treasured tale about a swan egg that accidentally rolls into the nest of a duck. When the egg hatches, the “duckling” has a different appearance and is considered unattractive by the other ducks. Unfortunately, from that point on, the little ugly duckling endures abuse from the other ducks, ducklings, and hens in the barnyard. Even the girl who feeds the animals is mean to the ugly duckling. Finally, he leaves the barnyard and for a time lives with wild ducks and geese. However, he is not safe for long because the flocks are plagued by hunters. As the story continues, the ugly duckling finds other temporary homes and continues to suffer various hardships. Finally in the spring, after spending a horrible winter outdoors, he is taken in by a flock of lovely swans. As it turns out, the ugly duckling is not a duck at all, but a beautiful swan himself!

I especially enjoyed the stunning woodland images in this book. I love the outdoors and all the seasons. It was evident from the brilliant artwork that Mr. Pinkney also has a deep appreciation for the marvels of nature. Reading this book reminded me to not only pay attention to the words on the paper, but to also deliberately consider a book’s pictures and the story they tell.

This version of the classic story, The Ugly Duckling, is worthy of inclusion in any elementary classroom collection. Its lessons regarding self-acceptance, hurt and victory, wit and kindness are ageless.

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