Sarah Landwehr's Reviews > The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney
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Oct 31, 11

Read in October, 2011

“The Ugly Duckling” is a classic short story by Hans Christian Andersen. The ugly duckling is constantly shunned by his peers. Even when he flies away and lives in the marsh on his own, he is “so ugly that even a dog doesn’t want to eat” him. Finally, one day, the duckling sees some beautiful swans and is jealous of their beauty. After a long, cold winter the duckling decides to fly to the swans; he doesn’t even care that “they may peck me [him] to death.” However, when the duckling sees his reflection in the lake, he sees that he too is a beautiful swan and the other swans accept him. Bernadette Watts’s colored-pencil illustrations that supplement the text are Caldecott worthy and do an excellent job of depicting the emotions of the duckling as well as the passing of time. Children in an elementary classroom from kindergarten through second grade can enjoy this story as well as the illustrations. It teaches a valuable lesson that everyone is beautiful, but I would caution teachers because I think it’s important that students realize that inner beauty is truly what’s important. Perhaps, this story could even be used in a science unit about how birds develop and hatch from eggs.

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