Quackenstein Hatches a Family

What It Is

Quackenstein is a lonely, grumpy duck living in the darkest corner of the zoo. Feeling sorry for himself, one day he stumbles upon several “orphaned” eggs and decides to adopt one. He anxiously takes his chosen egg home to hatch. On a dark and stormy night, the egg hatches and out comes a mysterious little creature that was definitely not a duck. “Quack” ran in horror with his “baby” following close behind. When finally cornered in a cave, Quack is greeted with “Hello...Dad!” and his heart melts as any parent’s would when hearing their child’s first words. Touched by his youngling’s unconditional love, Quack and his new son (who we learn is a platypus) head home. The once darkest corner of the zoo becomes a happy place, complete with a freshly painted house, cobblestone walkway and clean yard for playing catch.

Why It’s Fun

The story is both funny and sweet. Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen’s rhyming style is enjoyable to read, though some “big words” may be a challenge for beginning readers, making the book better as an adult read-aloud. The message is poignant; just because someone looks different, it doesn’t mean they aren’t special. What my girls and I enjoyed most were the vivid illustrations. Brian Jones hid quirky items in his pictures such as a baseball placed among the nest of orphaned eggs and a baby elephant sucking a pacifier through its trunk. This illustration technique makes for a good book to read repeatedly because parents and kids will often find something new with each look.

Who’s Going To Love It

The publisher does not list a recommended age, but the book seems most appropriate for 5- to 8-year-olds, both boys and girls. Parents should be aware that several illustrations are dark and a bit scary, which may frighten some preschoolers. With the all humor and colorful, “scary” graphics, the author’s message does not get lost, however, so don’t judge this book’s beauty by its cover.

Reading Time

About four minutes

Read-It-Again Points

9 out of 10

Book Information

Quackenstein Hatches a Family
By: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Illustrated by Brian T. Jones
Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers (2010)
Approximate retail price: $15.95
Publisher’s recommended ages: n/a


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