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THE UGLY DUCKLING by Stephen Mitchell Kirkus Star


adapted by Stephen Mitchell & illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2159-9
Publisher: Candlewick

An absolutely drop-dead gorgeous edition of the beloved Andersen tale. Mitchell hews very closely to the language and cadences of the original: What this means is a measured and rich text, excellent for reading aloud if not for very young children. Johnson and Fancher make mixed-media and collage images of powerful beauty. Every page is spectacular—even the narrative pages have spot illustrations (large in this format) and background textures in green (which the text tells us is “good for the eyes”). A rather distracted mother duck notes that one egg looks different from the others, and hatches later. That “duckling” is so ugly that his siblings and all the other farm animals persecute it violently, until it runs away to spend the winter first in a tumbledown cottage and then on its own. When spring finally arrives, he recognizes himself in the magnificent white swans like the one he has become. The artists do wonderful things with texture: Feathers, water and grasses are made of collage bits that range from lace to marbled paper to paint to cloth. The pictures have great depth, not only in terms of perspective but in how they draw the eye and heart to pore over every detail. Simply exquisite. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-9)