The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur: A Prehistoric Tale

We have been on a dinosaur kick this week. Today we have the delightful fiction picture book The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur: A Prehistoric Tale by Cheryl Bardoe and illustrated by Roy D. Kennedy, a new take on the well-known ugly duckling tale.

When mother duck’s last egg takes an extra long time to hatch, she isn’t worried. But when the newest duckling pops from the shell, everyone thinks “That is the ugliest duckling I’ve ever seen!” Through a humorous series of mishaps, the ugly duckling learns he is not a duckling at all, but a magnificent Tyrannosaurus rex.

Like yesterday’s The Voyage of Turtle Rex, this book mixes fiction and nonfiction. In this case, the book falls squarely on the side of fiction, although a lot of research went into getting the details right. As she points out in her Author’s Note at the end, Bardoe based her mother duck and ducklings on an actual bird that lived during the time of the dinosaurs, Vegavis iaai. The creatures that the main character stumbles across are actual dinosaurs, like Stegosaurus, and Deinonychus.

The watercolor illustrations by Roy D. Kennedy of big-eyed birds and dinosaurs add to the child-friendly silliness of the book. In the Artist’s Note in the back he writes he used watercolors because that is the medium used by scientific illustrators, but that “there had to be some poetic license.”

As an adult reading this book you might think the plot is stale or the premise a bit of a stretch, but in the eyes of a child it is fresh and fun. The message that it is okay to be different definitely stands up well in today’s environment. Plus The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur could be just the right book to tempt the dinosaur fan enamored with nonfiction to branch out into fiction.

For a fun romp through prehistory with a worthwhile message, be sure to give it a try.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (May 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 9780810997394
ISBN-13: 978-0810997394

Book was provided for review purposes.

Be sure to look for more information about children’s books at today’s Book Talk Tuesday.