Title: The Ugly DucklingThe Ugly Duckling
Author: Lilian Moore
Illustrator: Daniel San Souci
Pages: 48
Recommended Ages: Read Aloud
Star Rating: ★★★★

Once upon a time a mother duck sat on a nest filled with eggs. One by one the eggs began to hatch – and what lovely little ducklings they were! Soon the only one left was a large egg that seemed to take forever to hatch…. And when it finally hatched, it turned out to be the weirdest, whitest, ugliest chick you ever did see!

It isn’t long before the obvious disgust of his family and the whole barnyard drives the ugly duckling out into the world. But he learns that here, too, everyone is cruel and taunting. Will the ugly duckling ever find a place where he will be considered beautiful?


The message of The Ugly Duckling is a perennial one, but one which never grows old. It is, in essence, one of identity and self-respect. The little duckling – who was really a cygnet – is considered ugly and queer by the other animals because they are ignorant and know only to judge others on their own plane of limited existence. They look at the cygnet and, because they know nothing of an entirely different world of beauty, first mislabel him as a “duck” and then decide that he is ugly based on their faulty assessment of what he is. What they fail to understand is that he is a swan who doesn’t play by their rules and who will, in the end, grow to be far more beautiful than them.

The lesson here should be obvious – people will try to categorize you. People will miscategorize you, then call you ugly or strange based on their notion of what you ought to be. But you can’t let it hurt you because the only reason they have made such a harsh judgment is that they are narrow-minded and ignorant and don’t know of any kind of worth, beauty, or value apart from the little system they’ve set up for themselves. But not all of us are ducks – some of us are swans.

Conclusion. A great story with lovely illustrations.

Review © 2015 Laura Verret

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