The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur

What It Is

This new picture book is a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling using a young dinosaur as the subject. The story line is similar to the classic, except when Mother Duck’s eggs hatch, a dinosaur pops out instead of an ugly duckling. Like the original, Mother Duck loves her “ugly duckling” despite his differences. After unintentionally scaring other animals and being mocked, the little dinosaur runs off to find a place where he belongs. As time passes, he grows really big, so much that even other dinosaurs flee at the sight of him. Finally, he meets an “adult” dinosaur that looks just like him and is welcomed to her family. He sees that her “kids” are like him as well and called Tyrannosaurus rex, not ducklings. He joins the family and they all live happily ever after.

Why It’s Fun

Kids love dinosaurs and Cheryl Bardoe does a fantastic job of translating this classic tale using many prehistoric characters and modern verse. Yet, her story carries the same important messages as Anderson’s classic. Reading the classic and updated versions together could also be a great opportunity for a dialogue about drawing comparisons. Doug Kennedy’s cartoonish illustrations are vibrant and fun, with touching expressions at the right moments. For young paleontologists, Ms. Bardoe provides additional information about different types of dinosaurs at the end of the book.

Who’s Going To Love It

This is a great selection for dinosaur-loving boys and girls of any age, and a fun twist on a classic tale. Often remakes seem forced, but this story flows naturally as if the theme was original. If you had to choose between the version of The Ugly Duckling that we reviewed last week or this one, bring your kids to the bookstore and let them decide. This version may win out because dinosaurs are perceived as “cooler” by kids, but the choice would be too tough for me!

Reading Time

About 4 minutes

Read-It-Again Points

10 out of 10

Book Information

The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur: A Prehistoric Tale
By: Cheryl Bardoe, Illustrated by Doug Kennedy
Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers (2011)
Approximate retail price: $16.95
Publisher’s recommended ages: n/a


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