A slimmed-down adaptation of the Andersen tale about appearances, this includes most of the essentials usually present in today’s retellings.
With no mention of the original author, the story is told simply; the only hint of the barnyard satire found in Andersen’s version is represented by the farm animals’ speech-balloon commentaries on the duckling’s looks. There is humor in the illustrations, especially in the hatching scene with its blue-speckled egg shown in three phases with “two funny feet, / two waving wings, / and one bumpy beak.” Lots of little creatures, the likes of insects, worms, snails, and butterflies, appear in the bright, bland Disney-esque paintings, in addition to the bigger animals. In contrast to the original, the “ugly duckling” doesn’t take action and run away because of the taunts he receives, instead becoming stuck in a mole’s tunnel when the duck family prepares to fly south for the winter. The happy ending is heralded by a double-page spread of two swans face to face, with their curving necks almost forming a heart. Large-eyed fish, frogs, and dragonflies surround the handsome birds. There’s nothing new or special here.
With its somewhat saccharine illustrations and only serviceable text—and far better versions available—this can easily be skipped. (Picture book. 4-6)