Odd Duck

Overview

Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there's nothing so odd about that.

 

Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can't overlook his odd habits. It's a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him.

 

But who ...

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Overview

Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there's nothing so odd about that.

 

Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can't overlook his odd habits. It's a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him.

 

But who exactly is the odd duck here? Theodora may not like the answer.

 

Sara Varon (Robot Dreams) teams up with Cecil Castellucci (Grandma's Gloves) for a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming examination of the perils and pleasures of friendship.

 

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2013

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Editorial Reviews

Pamela Paul
Castellucci's story about accepting differences brims with appealingly quirky touches, and Varon's panels are funny and fresh in this all-too-rare and very fine example of the early-reader graphic novel.
Publishers Weekly
Castellucci’s comics-style chapter book explores a misfit friendship with lots of help from Varon’s bubbly, lighthearted artwork. “Feathers not well-oiled!” shouts a caption balloon, reflecting Theodora Duck’s alarm about her hipstery new neighbor, Chad, as she stands over him, “welcome” cake in hand. Chad also makes strange sculptures, has multicolored feathers, and scratches himself with a fork. But after an invitation (“Would you like to look through my telescope?”) and a revelation (“She had never looked so closely at a star”), Theodora discovers that Chad makes a good companion. Varon (Robot Dreams) has fun contrasting Theodora’s prissy femininity with Chad’s slovenliness. When a chance remark from a bystander leads to a rift (which of them is the “odd duck”?), Castellucci (The Year of the Beasts) handles Theodora’s remorse and the friends’ reconciliation with humor and insight. It’s more of a rom-com than a story about juvenile friendship, but silly details like Theodora’s swimming posture exercises (“Teacup did not fall once! A new personal best!”), the ducks’ ridiculously stringy arms and legs, and the careful avoidance of mush will click with the book’s audience. Ages 6–up. Author’s agent: Kirby Kim, William Morris Endeavor. (May)
From the Publisher
"Varon’s gentle art and Castellucci’s nuanced writing combine in a sweet, quiet tale that celebrates the joys of being unique." — Booklist

* "This clever celebration of individuality delights." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 "A lively friendship story that shows it’s more fun to be different than “normal,” and most fun of all to be different with a buddy." — The Horn Book

 * "Warm and with solid insight into the nature of quirk, this title will amuse most readers, and it may be a welcome balm for those who feel a bit different." — School Library Journal, starred review

"Middle-graders on the verge of dog-eat-dog adolescence may find the idea of oddball pals sticking together a bolstering and affirmative one; the quirky tale may also serve as a nice prompt for a class discussion of friendship or idiosyncratic behavior." — BCCB

From the Publisher
"Varon’s gentle art and Castellucci’s nuanced writing combine in a sweet, quiet tale that celebrates the joys of being unique." — Booklist

* "This clever celebration of individuality delights." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 "A lively friendship story that shows it’s more fun to be different than “normal,” and most fun of all to be different with a buddy." — The Horn Book

 * "Warm and with solid insight into the nature of quirk, this title will amuse most readers, and it may be a welcome balm for those who feel a bit different." — School Library Journal, starred review

Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Theodora thinks she is perfectly normal. Sure, she swims on her pond with a tea cup balanced on her head. Yes, she eats mango salsa. Plus she chooses fabrics other ducks do not, and checks out books they never do. Then, there is her bicycle-riding, star-gazing, and refusal to fly away during winter. Still, she is happy and—according to Theodora—not unusual. Then a new neighbor moves in next door. With his strange yard sculptures and feathers askew, Chad seems like a strange duck to Theodora. At first, the two have difficulty communicating and nothing in common. As the winter days pass, the neighbors bond over star-gazing and shared lunches. By spring, the ducks are fast friends. Shopping in the village one day, Theodora and Chad hear another duck comment about an "odd duck." At first, each believes the remark was about the other. Soon defensiveness has their feathers a-flutter. Feelings are hurt, doors are slammed, and their friendship suspended. A few days of soul-searching later, both friends come face-to-face. Will their new found self-acceptance and appreciation of each other result in a reunion? Let's hope so. Castellucci and Varon present a couple of odd ducks we love in this chapter book/graphic novel hybrid. Perfect for beginning readers, or those who face social pressure and need a fun reminder to "be yourself." Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Theodora, a duck with a yen for lavender hats, stargazing, and staying north for the winter, prefers her solitary life slightly outside the duck community. She is dismayed by the grubby, flamboyant appearance of Chad when he moves in next door and populates his yard with art installations. But worst of all, he also chooses to remain at home throughout the snowy season. A story about first impressions, tolerance, and friendship, the narrative takes some time to fully click, but when it does there are many sweet touches to be found in the relationship between these odd ducks. Mostly eschewing panels and only occasionally using word balloons, this charming picture book cum early chapter book cum graphic novel has soft, clear pastel tones, strong lines, and lots of whimsical detail. Warm and with solid insight into the nature of quirk, this title will amuse most readers, and it may be a welcome balm for those who feel a bit different.—Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH
Kirkus Reviews
A sublime tale of two strange ducks who overcome the odds--pun completely intended--and become friends. Theodora is an odd duck indeed: She spends her days swimming with a teacup balanced on her head, flavoring her duck pellets with mango salsa and watching the stars. She is content, her days are full--but they're not quite fulfilling. One fateful day, a new duck named Chad moves next door. He's strange, unstructured, disorderly and loud--the opposite of quietly meticulous Theodora. Despite his eccentricities--and her initial judgment of him--the pair bond over a shared love of the stars. During an outing, another duck loudly points out that "odd duck" as the pair waddle past. Each thinks that the other must be the odd one, resulting in an argument. As Theodora ponders their fight, she realizes that though she's happy with her life, it doesn't mean much without someone to share it with. A moral that could have been nauseatingly saccharine in the hands of a lesser author is handled deftly here. Castellucci and Varon shine together, with Varon's trademark animal characters and Castellucci's careful prose. Readers expecting a typical graphic novel may be a bit put off; reading like a long picture book, this is reliant on illustrations that stretch across an entire page as opposed to many boxy, structured panels, resulting in a wonderfully odd and endearing little offering. This clever celebration of individuality delights. (Graphic fiction. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596435575
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication date: 5/14/2013
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 122,965
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: AD540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Cecil Castellucci's books include Boy Proof (Candlewick, 2005), The Plain Janes (Minx/DC Comics, 2007), and The Year of the Beasts (Roaring Brook, 2012). She collaborated with artist Sara Varon on Odd Duck, a graphic novel for young readers. She is the YA editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and a two time Macdowell Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles. 

Originally from the Chicago area, Sara Varon now resides in Brooklyn, New York. When not drawing, she likes to visit the flowers in her yard and pet the neighborhood dogs. Like Theodora, she might be considered an odd duck. Her books include Robot Dreams, Bake Sale, Chicken and Cat, and Chicken and Cat Clean UpOdd Duck is her most recent graphic novel. 

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Reading Group Guide

About the Book:

Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there's nothing so odd about that. Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can't overlook his odd habits. It's a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him. But who exactly is the odd duck here? Theodora may not like the answer.

Read More Show Less

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