Out of an egg that has rolled into Mother Duck's nest hatches a crocodile, Guji Guji, who happily grows up as a duck along with his "brothers" Crayon, Zebra and Moonlight and only slowly figures out how different he is -- and where his loyalty lies. The pictures are done in black, white, browns and grays, with just a few splashes of color (blue-nosed crocodiles!), but their quietness conceals a keen humor.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
As with Chen's On My Way to Buy Eggs, his muted ink-and-wash drawings of gray and brown makes this picture book look like an old classic. And, with its deft pacing and spare text, it shares the same virtues. An overlarge nut-brown egg lands in Mother Duck's nest of pure white ovoids, but "Mother Duck didn't notice. (She was reading.)" When the brown egg bursts open, "a rather odd-looking duckling" emerges, crying "Guji Guji." The scaly green fellow joins his feathered siblings Crayon, Zebra and Moonlight. To the mother's credit, she never remarks on Guji Guji's big snout or his reptilian tail. She loves "all her ducklings the same." On the opposite page, an untidy heap of three sleepy ducklings and one sleepy crocodile listen to Mother Duck read aloud. Then three bad crocodiles catch Guji Guji alone. They tell him that not only is he not a duck, he's supposed to be eating ducks. "I am not a bad crocodile," the hero says, making an experimental fierce face. "Of course, I'm not exactly a duck, either." Guji Guji hatches a wonderful plan to defeat the bad crocodiles, and the ducks declare him "duck hero of the day." Chen's story of love, acceptance and self-discovery gives every sign of becoming a well-worn favorite. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This is one of the most inspiring, lovely, imaginative picture books I have seen in years. A strange egg appears in Mother Duck's nest. Suddenly she has four eggs. But she is reading and does not notice. When the eggs hatch, she gives names to the first three ducklings, but the last one says, "Guji, Guji" as he hatches, so that is his name. Mother Duck raises her children to do duck thingswaddle, swim, and dive. It is not until three mean crocodiles notice Guji Guji's differences from his siblings, and tell him about these differences, that he realizes that he may not be a duck. But that's ridiculoushe swims like a duck, waddles like a duck, of course he is a duck! The three mean crocodiles have plans for the duck family but Guji Guji has plans of his own, and they do not include diving into the open mouths of three mean crocodiles. This book is so much fun to read that its lessons are absorbed painlessly: that "different-looking" on the outside is not important, and that what is in your heart matters more than looks. Highly recommended. 2003, Kane Miller, Ages 4 to adult.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-One day, an extra-large egg rolls right into Mother Duck's nest. She is busy reading and doesn't notice the new addition, but this lucky event will change her life. Her hatchlings include a yellow duckling; one with blue spots; another with brown stripes; and a rather unusual, crocodile-shaped youngster, named after his first words. Guji Guji grows bigger and stronger than his siblings (and more crocodilelike), but Mother loves all her offspring the same. When three duck-hungry crocodiles make fun of Guji Guji's ways and try to tempt him into betraying his family, he is put to the test. This beautifully written story has much to say about appreciating families and differences, and it will resonate with children long after the final page is turned. Chen's unique illustrations are compelling, down to the beautiful silhouette endpapers. The rich blues and earth tones and dramatic page layouts create moving scenes, but the quirky details and characters' expressions are hilarious. This charming spin on the ugly duckling theme is a must-have for any collection.-Julie Roach, Malden Public Library, MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.