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Animal Theme/Character, Book Reviews, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Early/Young Readers, Friendship, Graphic Novel, Teacher & Parent Recommendations

ODD DUCK by Cecil Castellucci & Sara Varon

Odd Duck

Odd Duck is a bright, engaging, colorful story about Theodora. More than a picture book but just as richly illustrated, Odd Duck is a graphic novel in chapters.  For young/beginning readers it is the perfect bridge from picture books to easy chapter books.  For older elementary readers it is still a well-crafted story about being different, finding friendship in unexpected people and the unconditional acceptance of those friends.

Theodora is already different from other ducks:  she doesn’t fly south for the winter, she likes to try new salsas, make quilts, read many different kinds of books and live far enough from town to be by herself where she can star gaze at night.  She doesn’t like change.

Then Chad moves in next door.  After meeting him, Theodora is appalled by his lack of manners and hygiene, his loud hammering as he builds and displays huge sculptures in his yard and his unorganized splashy way of swimming.  She is certain she and Chad will never be friends.

Then one night they discover they are both stargazing.  Chad offers Theodora the chance to look at the stars through his telescope.  They begin to talk and discover that although they are very different in many ways, they also have many interests in common.  They begin to spend time together and develop a friendship.  When the pair overhears someone else talking about the oddness of ‘that duck’ each thinks it is a reference to the other.

Each angry that the other believes her (or him) to be odd, they stop talking.  Theodora is adamant that her friendship with Chad is over.  Theodora’s discovery of both what a good friendship truly is and what it is worth in each of our lives is touching in its simplicity and its truth.  Odd Duck is a beautiful book for all ages (although older readers will need it to be introduced as part of a unit or presentation since they will assume it is beneath them due to its format) about the beauty and joy we can have in life if we are open to both our own true selves and the gift a friend brings to our lives.

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