From School Library Journal
Grade 1-5–Bell's able and elegant translation of this classic tale omits nothing: the ugly duckling, rejected by his siblings and mother, runs away. He journeys to the marshes where he meets wild ducks and geese and watches as they are slaughtered by hunters, is told by a cat and hen that he does not possess the right talents, and is later rescued by a farmer from freezing fast in a pond. Eventually, he realizes his true identity and is happy with himself but modest because "a good heart never shows pride." Ingpen's bold impressionistic paintings fill the spreads and render the birds with pleasing angularity. However, the text often seems crowded on the page and is obscured in some instances by the dark, earth-toned palette. This edition suits libraries wishing to have the whole story, but young children will be more readily drawn into and less frightened by versions illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (HarperCollins, 1999) or Lorinda B. Cauley (Harcourt, 1979).–Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
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Gr. 1-3. Trying to appeal to a preschool audience, most picture-book versions of "The Ugly Duckling" take out much of the misery and thus lessen the impact of the happy ending, when the "ugly duckling," rejected by the barnyard fowls, is accepted by his fellow swans. In this edition, Bell's graceful translation tells the whole story of the hero's misfortune, rejection, and misery, creating a feeling of darkness true to Andersen's text and making the ending more wonderful in comparison with the suffering that has gone before. Ingpen's beautifully composed paintings, which appear to incorporate elements of collage, are rather dark. Though the placement of text over patterned backgrounds may occasionally make reading hard for children, this is probably a book for adults to read aloud. A handsome edition that respects its source. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved