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The Ugly Duckling

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Set in the wilds of Africa, Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora's stunning interpretation of the beloved Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale portrays African animals and landscapes with beautiful detail. As the ugly duckling searches for a place where he can fit in, Isadora's vibrant collages capture the beauty in everything from glistening feathers to shimmering sunsets. ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published May 14th 2009 by Putnam Juvenile
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  288 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Oh the sadness of being so ugly no one wants to play with you…So the story of the Ugly Duckling goes in Isadora’s retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson classic. In vibrant Eric Carle-like collages, punctuated by colorful African textiles, our odd and clumsy friend is born into a brood of perfect siblings. His color is grey, his size is large, and his manners are clumsy, three characteristics that insure his fate as a ridiculed outcast. It is an old tale, and we know the story well. But we sti ...more
Alexa Maring
A classic story that can be used in any classroom to teach about being kind to others as well as teaching students that there is always a place for everyone! I like this version because of the drawings. They are vibrant in color and you can easily see a difference in the ducklings and the "ugly" duckling. This story connects to people of all ages. We all experience a time where we do not feel good enough, whether because we don't feel we look good enough or someone has told us we are not good en ...more
Jasmine Burk
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classroom-books
This was a great read. I had read this book as a kid, but forgot how it ended, so I was glad that I got the opportunity to read it again. This book was about a duckling who was different and didn't fit in anywhere it went, but was taken in by a family and there it grew, until the duck went out and found out he was a beautiful swan. This book is illustrated so creatively, and I like that you can tell that parts are actually painted, so it throws a creative twist to it. I would use this in the cla ...more
Angela Ahrendt
Apr 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Ugly Duckling by Rachel Isadora is an interpretation of the traditional folktale that is set in the African wild, which makes for exciting and colorful illustrations. In the book, there is one duckling that looks different from his siblings, and encounters many struggles because of it, in the end though, he becomes even more beautiful than he can imagine! This book is a great traditional literature text that can be used in younger grades, based on the simplicity of subject matter and element ...more
Mar 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
While I enjoyed this book and thought my 4 year old would too, I'm not sure he was ready for it. About 6 pages in he said, "Mom, this book is sad." I think he will understand it better a few years from now. ...more
Molly Campbell
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
This book is a retelling of the original story. It tells the story of a young duckling, who is considered to be the ugliest of all. The ugly duckling lives its life believing it is ugly, until one day. He spent the winter living with a family and when they put him back in the pond, he realizes he is the most beautiful swan.

I liked this version of the book for one particular reason. The author, who also illustrated the book, sets the story in Africa. Rachel Isadora does a beautiful job creating
Rachel Isadora
Summary: The ugly duckling doesn't look like anything like his brothers and sister. Even his own mother isn't sure what to make of him. So he sets off to find a place where he fits in - but he'll face many obstacles before he's able to see himself for who he really is.
Evaluation of Illustrations/Text: The illustrations are in color pencil drawing of bright, vivid color. The text is in bold text. The text has a sentence or few per page.
Strategies for Use in the Classroom:
Make pred
Reading with Ms. Gallardo
Retold and Illustrated by Rachel Isadora, this version of The Ugly Duckling includes beautiful illustrations that are perfect to engage younger students. There are a few differences between this version and the original tale. Reading both versions in class would be perfect for a compare and contrast lesson with 1st-3rd graders.
Ashley Buchanan
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great classic story set in Africa. This is an award winning story about a set little duck that searches for a place to be beautiful. This is a great book for young readers and older ones as it gives hope and something to connect to.
Savannah Domeyer
This story is retold by Lilian Moore about a duckling who was born very ugly. He went all over the place but was still being made fun of because he was ugly. After winter was over, he found his home again but came back a beautiful swan and he was the prettiest of them all.
Karim Elmenshawy
Mar 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
There's self-acceptance, there's family acceptance, and there's social acceptance.
Karla Winick-Ford
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story beautiful illustrations
Elizabeth Berndt
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a good class to teach children they are beautiful no matter what. I love the unique illustrations in this book.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baby-books
Classic story with great vibrant art. I like that the setting is in Africa which is a bit of a nice change.
Amanda Brooke
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this in a side by side comparison of examples of the Ugly Duckling to the whole school.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Published in 2009.

This cute book revisits an old story. I would like to compare and contrast different telling of the ugly duckling in my classroom.
Samantha Shank
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This version of the Ugly Duckling has such vivid and beautiful illustrations!
I read this book to my class today. It was perfect timing considering we had just come in from the playground and one of my children was being teased for having hat hair.

A mother duck hatches six yellow ducklings. She waits for her last egg (it is much larger than the others) and out pops a gray "duckling". She is surprised but claims him as her own. However, none of the other ducklings or animals will play with or talk to the ugly duckling. He leaves home and finds no solace until at last a far
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Rachel Isadora's retelling of "The Ugly Duckling" stays true to the original tale of an ugly duckling who doesn't quite seem to fit in. Nobody accepts the duckling because he looks so much different from all of the other ducklings, and everyone who encounters him thinks he is ugly. One day he sees these beautiful birds on the pond and admires them wishing he could be as beautiful as they are. After roaming around and not fitting in anywhere, a family takes in the duckling during the cold winter. ...more
Alex Hobart
Book Level: 3.3
Summary - This is the traditional story of the ugly duckling that is searching for a place to fit in. He feels that he does not fit with his brothers and sisters so he leaves and tries to find other animals to be part of until he sees his own beauty and accepts himself does he feel comfortable.
Characteristics that Support the Genre - The Ugly Duckling has been retold many times and there are many variations of this story. The pictures are also very narrative of the story and a g
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I have to admit this is a rather odd rendition of the story, and in places it doesn't quite make sense. For example, the setting is changed to somewhere in Africa, which is perfectly fine, but the "farmyard" has a giraffe, a snake, a monkey, and a wild boar. Also, the duckling is still caught out in the winter here, and is given shelter by a kind man and his two children during a snowstorm... in sub-Saharan Africa? That doesn't seem terribly likely. At the end, the duckling still turns into a sw ...more
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Age: Preschool-2nd grade

Isadora provides an accurate retelling of The Ugly Duckling, complete with the instances of death (birds being shot down), bullying, and the inclusion of specific settings including the meeting with the cat and hen. However, the tale is "softened" by excluding the family alienating the ugly duckling. Although not part of the original tale, I like how the farmer's family took the Ugly Duckling in during the winter months so that when springtime came and the duckling was to
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: be-yourself, emotions
This book was well written. I personally loved the illustrations. This book shows us how one duckling feels when he is different from others. He longs to be beautiful and everyone else doesn't see any beauty in him. At the end of the story, the duckling's wish comes true and he sees that he is very beautiful. People admire him and he is finally happy. Some students may feel like a ugly duckling at times & I do not mean just appearance. Students feel different all the time and I think it's okay t ...more
Lenae Haley
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was about a duckling that didn't look like rest of his brothers or sisters. He realized he didn't fit in and even his mother didn't approve of his appearance. He flew away on a journey to find some where that he might be accepted and looked like everyone else.

I thought this book had a cute story. I really liked the illustrations! They were super cute and colorful. It think the pictures would help keep the attention of the children.

This book could be used to teach to not judge others
Theme: treating others with kindness/ bullying

Beautiful illustrations retelling the Hans Christian Anderson classic set in Africa.
Read this with my will-be 1st grade son, it was his first time hearing this tale. He was filled with a feeling of injustice for the duckling. He continued to wonder why everyone treated the duckling so mean with their words. It led to a great discussion of the power of our words and how our words shape the way people few about themselves. I will definitely add this t
Mandy Scheuren
Rachel Isadora lived in Africa over a ten-year period, inspiring her to create fairy tales in an African setting. This story takes set in the wilds of Africa. Isadora’s tale remains mostly to the original story line, but the collages create a depth and texture, evoking the essence of an African savanna. The "large and clumsy" duckling, black and gray to the other ducklings' bright yellow, is ostracized by the other animals on the farm. But when a "kind farmer" takes him in, he lives with the far ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adults, read to children.
Shelves: traditional
The Ugly Duckling by Rachel Isadora tells a story about an ugly duckling who doesn't look like his brothers and sisters. The ugly duckling mother is clueless as to what to make of him. The ugly duckling decides to leave and find a place where he can belong and in the process find difficulties before the ugly duckling can accept himself. The book is traditional because Rachel Isadora interpret Christian Andersen (original author of The Ugly Duckling) classic book. In Rachel Isadora fairy tale of ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I think this may be the first time my nephew has heard this story. His little heart went right out to the poor little duckling that no one wanted to play with. Sweet little boy!

The illustrations in this book are very bright and vivid--quite eye-popping. The illustration style looks similar to that of Eric Carle, although not exactly the same. A timeless classic.
Dorothy Carder
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this story, too! The illustrations in this rendition of this tale were very bright and beautiful. The author took a different toll though on where the story took place and chose to set it in Africa where on the back flap it said she lived for ten years. I think the story line of this folklore is brilliant, easy to understand and that each person listening to or reading it can take away from it what matters most to them in terms of the text.
Elizabeth Burr
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
I have always loved this book it helps children understand that some people are differnt than other and just becasue we all don't look alike doesn't mean we aren't beautiful. Also, we all don't grow at the same pace or way and this is a book to help children understand that.

You could use this book when you study muticulturalism , to help chidren understand we are not all the same.
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Rachel Isadora is an award-winning children's author and illustrator. She has written children's books on multiple topics including ballet, life in America and Africa, and has illustrated several Brother Grimm tales in an African setting. She is most well-known for her Caldecott Honor Award book "Ben's Trumpet". She was a ballet dancer before she became an illustrator and children's writer. ...more

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