The ugly duckling by Frank Loesser

cover image

Ill. by Nathaniel Eckstrom, performed by Justine Clarke. Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781742836447
(Age: 4+) Picture book, Folk tale, Performance With a CD inside the front cover, this version of Hans Christian Anderson's Ugly duckling, gives a fresh approach for use in the classroom. The duckling is taunted by its peers for being ugly with its stubby brown feathers, and so hides away all winter long. But come spring when the swans on the lake appear, they see that the duckling is one of them and has now shed its stunted brown feathers to reveal glossy white feathers, gleaming in the sunlight. As such the duckling is now accepted eagerly by all the others.
This story of not judging a book by its cover, of not rejecting something because it doesn't look like all the others, will find resonance amongst children discussing appearance, bullying, judging and so on. In an astute teacher's hands this book will be able to be used as part of discussions within the class where problems have occurred about someone's appearance. The moral of the tale is obvious to all, and children will rejoice at the duckling's eventual acceptance.
Eckstrom's illustrations are richly detailed using a variety of media to achieve his finished work. He uses oil paint on canvas as well as pencil drawings which he fills with colour, while adding images which are digitally created to produce mixed media images which will ensure children will look at every detail. Again a reader will have fun working out just what he has used and why, in creating his pictures. It adds another level of interest for the reader to contemplate the choices an illustrator has made in producing the work that he does.
Fran Knight