In a lovely picture book first published in Switzerland, Andersen’s classic tale unfolds with a text trimmed of details, but with the essential elements intact. After hatching in a duck’s nest, the ugly duckling feels unwelcome and runs away. He shivers through the winter and nearly freezes before a kind farmer takes him in. Watching the swans return in the spring, he flies to the lake and, seeing his own reflection, realizes that he is no duckling, but a beautiful swan. From the endpapers’ butterfly motif, hinting of the coming transformation, to the sensitive depiction of the natural world, the illustrations offer a thoughtful, traditional interpretation of the story. Soft-edged forms and gentle colors create pleasing effects in the watercolor artwork, which is particularly effective in the many marsh and lake scenes. Vainio, a Finnish illustrator, offers a dignified yet appealing version of this satisfying story. Grades K-3. --Carolyn Phelan
About the Author
Vainio works as an illustrator and graphic designer.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in Odense, Denmark to a poor family. He left home as a 14-year-old to seek his fortune at the theatre in Copenhagen. Andersen began writing plays and poetry before he left for Copenhagen, but it was not until 1835 that he published the first of the fairytales that would bring him international renown. Since then, his over 200 fairytales have enjoyed undiminished popularity, providing the basis for favorite American interpretations such as Disney's The Little Mermaid.