Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Title:               Ugly
Category:       Juvenile
Grade:            2 - 5
Author:          Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrator:      Lita Judge
Publisher:       Hyperion
Date:               2006
Pages:             186

A retelling of The Ugly Duckling, Ugly recreates this well-known tale in Australia.  The famous “ugly duckling” begins life as a Pacific black duck and discovers himself finally to be an Australian black swan. 

Though the elements and progression of the story will be familiar to any fan of the original tale, Napoli rounds out the story with rich details about the many animals of Australia.  Ugly spends time with wallabies and wombats and even a temperamental platypus, as well as many, many different types of Australian birds, all behaving instinctively in ways that suggest extensive research by the author.  An interesting and enjoyable animal tale with a nice ending.  The only minor flaw was the lack of emotion and attachment many of the animals tended to display.  Though they spoke to Ugly, they are not intended to be anthropomorphic, and their lack of human emotion is slightly jarring.  Younger readers might also find the early treatment of Ugly disturbing.


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