The Ugly Duckling

As you know by now, Jerry Pinkney is one of our favorite author-illustrators and we even consider him a friend.   It is therefore no surprise that we chose his adaptation of The Ugly Duckling as our pick for Birds & Feathers month.

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Have you ever walked into a room and felt as though you didn’t belong?  Ever have someone make a hurtful remark about your hair, your weight, or anything about your appearance?  And should this happen to one of our children,  our parental instinct would immediately be to protect, soothe, and encourage our young one.

Well,  no sooner does our little Ugly Duckling hatch to see the light of day, than the teasing  begins.  “Did you ever see anything quite as ugly as that great creature?” one of the ducks in the yard taunted as the family walked by.  “He is a disgrace to any brood,” another agreed. “I shall go and chase him out!” And he ran to the big duckling and bit his neck.

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Mother Duck attempts to comfort her unusually large duckling, assuring him that although he may not be as handsome as the others, he is tall and strong.  Words meant to comfort, but our little duckling droops his head.

In desperation, the Ugly Duckling runs away, and I’m sorry to say, his misadventures continue.  Throughout the fall and bitter winter he struggles to find shelter and enough to eat.  When at last the days become warmer he sees before him the most beautiful birds he has ever seen.  He watches them step into a stream, with feathers rustling, and float quietly upon the water as though they are part of it.

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Do you know what our duckling does next? He stretches out his wings, and lifts himself into the big, blue sky and flies down to the water to join those beautiful birds.  I think you know what he sees when he looks into the water.  Gone is the bird with the dull feathers and awkward, skinny neck.  Yes, he now sees before him the real him – a beautiful swan!

The swan knew that it was worth having undergone
all the suffering and loneliness that he had.
Otherwise, he would never have known
what it was to be really happy.

Mary Byrne Kline
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