The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling

4.7 19
by Hans Christian Andersen, William B. Jones

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The Ugly Duckling is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). The story tells of a homely little bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from his surroundings until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all. The story is beloved around


The Ugly Duckling is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). The story tells of a homely little bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from his surroundings until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all. The story is beloved around the world as a tale about personal transformation for the better. The Ugly Duckling was first published on November 11th, 1843 with three other tales by Andersen in Copenhagen, Denmark to great critical acclaim. The tale is completely Andersen's invention and owes no debt to fairy or folklore. Beautifully illustrated, this classic tale will capture children's interest and spark their imagination inspiring a lifelong love of literature and reading.

Editorial Reviews

An unusually beautiful version of an old favorite.
Publishers Weekly
Crossley-Holland (Storm) and So (The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury) bring out all the luster of Andersen's classic tale in this beguiling book. The familiar sequence of events unfolds in a courtly retelling shot through with flashes of humor ("That's a turkey's egg," says a duck elder authoritatively before the "duckling" hatches; "Waddle properly keep your legs well apart, like I do," the mother duck urges her strange child). Crossley-Holland's prose is as elegant as it is lyrical ("Sunlight settled on the shoulders of the ancient castle"; "A great skein of wild geese started up"; "Clouds sagged with snow and hail"). So's dexterous, impressionistic watercolors soar between blocks of text on the spreads for a highly dynamic presentation. The images are by turn droll, dreamlike and bittersweet, ranging from a dog splashing wildly through the marsh and the busy congress of a barnyard to the supple arch of a bird's neck against a winter sky. The equal of the striking prose, So's graceful brush strokes and expressive use of line issue an irresistible invitation to readers. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 5 to 9.

The classic story of an awkward, unattractive duckling who hatches into a family of downy little ducks is told in a lightly humorous way. The mother duck, tired of sitting on the nest, is happy when the eggs hatch, but one large egg takes longer that the others. When it does hatch, the mother duck must admit he does not look like her other ducklings. She decides she will raise him and teach him to go into the water no matter what it takes. The ugly duckling is laughed at and picked on by all the other creatures. One day he sees a flock of magnificent white birds fly by and he is strangely moved. He aches to join them. After a bitter winter he sees the birds again and approaches them. He wants to be with them even if they think he is ugly. Of course, they welcome him, for he has blossomed into a beautiful white swan. The ultimate lesson is rather sad, as it indicates that beauty is necessary for happiness. The collage paintings accompanying the text are unusual and add another dimension to the story. Reviewer: Carolyn Mott Ford

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Many of Andersen's fairy tales do not have a truly happy ending, but the story of the ugly duckling is one that ends in triumph. The duckling is not like his brothers and sisters and is taunted by them and the other ducks. His mother is protective, but the little duckling is treated so badly that he sets out on his own. After suffering much privation, he suddenly sees a flock of the same beautiful birds that flew by many months ago. He glories in his newfound wings and the strength coursing through his body and decided to join them. Much to his surprise they welcome him, for he too has become a beautiful white swan. Pinkney's watercolors are wonderful. From the mother duck's surprise at the large egg that takes so long to hatch, to the poor ducklings struggles to survive during the harsh winter to the warmth and beauty of spring and his reunion with those who welcome him as one of their own. The sunlight on the water and around the beautiful swan are a reflection of the golden glow of inner joy. A truly lovely adaptation of this classic story.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
True to the original version of the story, this interpretation has humor, drama and poignancy as the awkward young cygnet journeys toward his real identity. Andersen's most famous fable of an outcast is retold with well-contrasted woodcuts. The lyrical narration bursts with vivid description and challenging vocabulary.
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
Hans Christian Anderson's tale of the ugly duckling is the classic expression of a message that every child who doubts his or her self-worth needs to hear. The important thing is who we are, not how we look. Even the plainest looking beings on the outside have the potential to grow beautiful—inside and out. This version retains a translation of Anderson's text but is graced by Vaino's soft but realistic watercolor paintings. Each spread has two to three paragraphs of text facing a full page illustration. Given the somewhat formal tone and language, the beautiful illustrations invite children alone or with an adult to revisit the story and, by "reading" the illustrations, process and ponder the story's lesson. The illustrations also make this a great book to use in a study of birds or domestic animals, given how few children today are likely to be familiar with ducks or swans. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2

Andersen's timeless story is lovingly revisited in this modest yet engaging retelling. With the sound and feel of a classic in the very best sense, the familiar tale has been reworked but not oversimplified, making it particularly appealing for children who might be too young for some of the harsher elements of the original. But what makes this version particularly appealing is the lovely watercolor artwork, which, like the text, exudes a feeling of tradition and familiarity. Uncluttered backgrounds are softly blurred in watery shades of blue and green, while the details are more focused and sharply drawn. The duckling's sadness and longing to belong come through in his posture and expressions, providing a clear focal point for readers' empathy. When considering a classic, it is easy to decide that a collection doesn't need yet another version, but with a beautifully simple offering such as this, one might want to think again.-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

Hans Christian Andersen
An unusually beautiful version of an old favorite.
Kirkus Reviews
A gentler, milder version of Andersen's classic tale of the misunderstood cygnet, inexplicably despised for his comparatively large size and definite lack of yellow but not for any real ugliness. Vainio reveals through delicate watercolors the whitish-gray fluff of a charming, tender baby desperately alone in a soft, beautiful world. Though the illustrations are lovely, they lack power. In every situation where the innocent swan is abused and finds no respite from hatred, the art handles this horror too gently. His reactions to rejection and verbal abuse are revealed in the illustrations, with a slight incline of his head showing his dejection. He is also unnaturally slow in growing, remaining a fuzzy baby over the course of months and then suddenly growing to adulthood in a page turn-a problem inherent in most illustrated versions of the tale. The unnamed translator has edited out the most violent verbal and physical abuse found in the original, making a place for it in collections for younger picture-book readers yet losing the story's raw spark. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-6)

Product Details

Trajectory, Inc.
Publication date:
Classics Illustrated Junior , #502
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File size:
19 MB
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Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Hans Christian Andersen (2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) was a Danish author and poet best known for his classic children's works, including "The Princess and the Pea" and "The Emperor's New Clothes".

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 2, 1805
Date of Death:
August 4, 1875
Place of Birth:
Odense, Denmark
Place of Death:
Copenhagen, Denmark

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The Ugly Duckling 4.7 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another excellent version of the Ugly Duckling. The illustrations are wonderful and so lovely for little children to see the beauty of art in such a great story. People of all ages can relate to the story of the misfit in the group and you find yourself riding along with the main character as he tries to fit in and then tries to find who he is really is. This classic story is always a great story for kids and with the lovely illustrations it makes it fun to read again and again. I would recommend this book to all people who love to read with children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
its a story about a duck who actually isnt a duck its actually a swan who cant love that
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the great lessons of all children's stories. Remember it fondly and hold it close to your heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a great story with good meaning behind it. 'Let me see the egg that won't hatch'. The ugly duckling was a late comer and not the prettiest thing either. He struggled all his life until one day when he realized that he could be a great duck. In the end he says, 'I never dreamed of so much happiness when I was the ugly duckling'. Anderson, Hans Christian. The Ugly Duckling. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2005.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I¿m partial to any Hans Christian Anderson book. This is because when I was young I saw the movie of his life as portrayed by Danny Kaye and I fell in love with his story! Though I¿m not sure how factual the movie was, I¿m still intrigued by his literature. The Ugly Duckling is a timeless story of a young hatchling¿s journey from birth to adulthood. His life begins as an ugly, awkward duck that is taunted and teased by all those who see him even his own family turns against him and they peck and chase him out of their barnyard. The little duckling finds himself in strange surroundings, but tries to do his best with what he¿s got and to find his place in life. One day, he hears a flock of birds flying high and admires them from afar. ¿Oh, if only he could go with them! But what sort of a companion could he be to those beautiful beings?¿ After a terribly cold winter, you¿ll be delighted to see the discoveries that unfold for this strong-willed little duckling.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the moment he hatched out of his egg, the little duckling knew he was different. Even his mother and his brothers and sisters thought he was strange. The other animals taunted him and bit him to the point where he just could not stand it anymore, so he left his mother to try to make it on his own. Out in the wild, the duckling faced even more challenges such as hunters and dogs. He began to think to himself, ¿I am too ugly even for a dog to eat.¿ The summer ended and winter was just around the corner, but still the duckling wondered, would he ever fit in anywhere? The Ugly Duckling is an extraordinary book for both children and adults of all ages. I remember reading this book as a young child and crying because it was so sad with a bright ending, and when I read it again now as an adult, I reacted to the book in the very same way. A lot of people can relate to this book if at sometime in their lives, they felt out of place (basically everyone will feel that way at sometime or another in their life) just as the duckling in the book did. This book teaches children that while not everybody is exactly the same, everyone is special in their own way. What¿s on the outside is not what matters it¿s what¿s on the inside that counts. Jerry Pinkney lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York with his wife, author Gloria Jean Pinkney. Jerry turned to art at an early age because his dyslexia made it very difficult to read. He graduated from Dobbins Vocational School with a concentration in commercial art and he received a full scholarship to attend the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (PCA). Jerry has been illustrating children¿s books since 1964, and to date, he has illustrated more than 75 books. Many of his books have won various awards including the Caldecott Honor Award. Pinkney, Jerry. The Ugly Duckling. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1999. RL: Ages 5-8, Grades K-3
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Ugly Duckling is a true Classic. A tale of how no matter what circumstances you were born in- how unlike the others you are, you can find true beauty when you find your place in the crowd. You will then find indeed true character and goodness within. This book is highly recommended.
MikeLaville More than 1 year ago
My favorite! Great pictures as well!
Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
This is a retelling for picture book age children. The illustrations are superb and very appealing. I deducted one star because it does not have the original text, however this much shorter version will appeal to the age most likely to want to read the story. This would be a beautiful addition to any family's picture book collection. Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this story so much! It brings back such sweet memories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott: Throughout the book, The Ugly Duckling, I felt sorry for the duck. It was a sad situation because no one wanted to have anything to do with the duck. The mother duck would not even tell the others she thought he was a good looking duck. It was awful that no one really took up for him. Hans Christian Andersen was born in the slums of Odense. His father, Hans Andersen, was a poor shoemaker and literate, who believed he was of aristocratic origin. Andersen's mother, Anne Marie Andersdatter, worked as washerwoman. Although she was uneducated and superstitious, she opened for his son the world of folklore. Andersen received little education. As a child he was highly emotional, suffering all kinds of fears and humiliations because of his tallness and effeminate interests. Encouraged by his parents he composed his own fairy tales and arrange puppet theatre shows. His father loved literatuire and took Andersen often to the playhouse. The Ugly Duckling, is about a duck that when he was born he was different from his siblings and mom. Everyone thought he was so ugly and picked on him. So, he left home one night. He came across a lady and her cat and hen. He stayed with them awhile, but the cat and hen thought the duckling was useless. So, once again the duck left in search for a new place. The duck goes through a few more situations, but then finds others that he fits in with. ¿He may not be quite as handsome as the others,¿ his mother answered. The duckling¿s mother agrees with another duck that her son is not that good looking like the other ducks. Andersen, Hans Christian. The Ugly Duckling. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1999. Grade Level: 4th
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent take on the classic children's story, and the pictures are amazing. Jerry Pinkney won a Caldecott Honor for his rendition of the Ugly Duckling. I love how the pictures span the whole page, but frame the text on one page to make it easier to read. The tale is truly a heartwarming story, and I would highly recommend this book for children, parents, and teachers alike.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very nicely done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well stared by a sample. I like it already.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love my 3 page sample.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fhccbcfhfvg cute! Nguhygdfdgyrfggv¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿nhhtdghrjjjjjjyyyyyyyyyttttfcccvggggbhhbvg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The original (non-Disney) version of the tale.