A long time ago a duck sat on her nest, waiting for her eggs to hatch. The sun was shining and all the other ducks were swimming in the water.
Mother Duck wanted her eggs to hatch so she could enjoy the sunshine. She didn’t have to wait for long. One by one, the eggs hatched.
Everyone admired Mother Duck’s four little ducklings.
They ran around in circles. ‘Quack quack quack!’ they said.
When Mother Duck’s eggs hatch, four of her babies are beautiful yellow and quack just like her. When her final egg hatches, long after the others, she discovers ‘quite the ugliest duckling she’s ever seen’. Instead of ‘quack’, this ‘duckling’ honks. None of the other animals know quite what to make of this newcomer. The rabbits are scared, the hens laugh and the cows chase him around the paddocks. Even his nest mates shun him. When Mother Duck takes her babies for a swim, Ugly Duckling walks away. He tries without success to find a new home, until he happens upon some baby swans. They welcome him, as does their mother. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour, in soft colours. Endpapers feature Ugly Duckling and ducklings.
The Ugly Duckling is part of a new series from New Frontier Publishing called Happily Ever After. The story is simplified for a young audience and presented as hardcover picture book, with large text and only a few words on each opening. Illustrations are gentle even when Ugly Duckling is outcast. After a few readings, preschoolers will be able to ‘read’ it for themselves.
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller