UGLY by Donna Jo Napoli
Kirkus Star


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 10
Email this review


Trust Napoli to work her usual alchemy and make a fabulous coming-of-age story from the bare outline of the reassuring ugly-duckling trope. Told in the first person from the time he’s inside the egg, hatched by a Pacific black duck in Tasmania, the hero—and he is definitely a hero—rouses to the sound of his mother’s voice. But she has to let him go, as the other ducks attack him and endanger Ugly’s duckling siblings. He quickly learns that his instincts aren’t quite duck-like, or goose-like, so he is constantly trying to fit into habits and habitats that aren’t quite right. He makes friends with a wallaby, two geese, a wombat and a possum. Some of them come to violent ends, but Ugly learns from them what he is and isn’t and how to cope. When Ugly finally discovers that he is a swan, and not at all ugly, readers will have learned a great deal about various Tasmanian wildlife. They will have giggled mightily at the silliness of baby ducks and how the actions of cats and people might look to a young male swan. Tucked into this wondrously spun tale so deftly that one might scarcely notice are beautiful lessons about finding oneself, about fitting in (or not), about the implacability of nature and weather and the importance of maternal advice. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7868-3753-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2005


ChildrenTREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES by Donna Jo Napoli
by Donna Jo Napoli
ChildrenHUNGER by Donna Jo Napoli
by Donna Jo Napoli
ChildrenTAKE YOUR TIME by Eva Furrow
by Eva Furrow


ChildrenWHEN YOU NEED WINGS by Lita Judge
by Lita Judge
ChildrenHOMES IN THE WILD by Lita Judge
by Lita Judge
ChildrenPENGUIN FLIES HOME by Lita Judge
by Lita Judge