________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 33. . . .April 26, 2013


Hansel, Gretel, and the Ugly Duckling. (Tadpoles: Fairytale Jumbles).

Hilary Robinson. Illustrated by Simona Sanfilippo.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2013.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $19.36 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-1166-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-1157-5 (RLB).

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Jessica Kluthe.

**** /4



Hansel dropped stones to make a long trail
so they could find their way back.
Just as they got to the farm by the stream,
they heard a little duck quack.


There are a lot of reasons to love this fast-paced, rhyme-filled book.

     Here, readers find familiar characters come together in a unique story—the ugly ducking, a sad, sweet brown duck, saves the two children from a mean old lady who locked them up and threw out the key. This twist—as two classic stories converge, when Hansel and Gretzel stumble upon the Ugly Ducking in a teal-colored steam that runs the length of the page—provides an easy entry point. Many children will be familiar with these characters and will likely be excited to see them interact together on these full-color pages.

internal art      The passages of text are easy to spot because the sentences are printed on a white background, but they blend well into the images. On some pages, the passages are near the top, and on others they are near the bottom, an approach which effectively moves young readers’ eyes across the vivid images from page to page and will keep them engaged in the story. Further, as the story is written in rhyme, it is both fun to listen to and easy to read!

      The rhyming text will likely encourage even a reluctant reader to jump in, especially at the very end of the book. The second last page begins a rhyme, “[The duck] lived the rest of his days on their pond and grew into a…” As the reader flips to page and discovers that the cute little brown duck has turned into a beautiful, smiling swan, they will likely want to exclaim, “SWAN!” and complete the story.

      Not only does Hansel, Gretel, and The Ugly Duckling make for a great reading experience, but also the images are memorable and would be fun for a very young reader to flip through. Readers will not find hard-edged, black outlined images here. Instead, in soft, natural tones splashed with some bright colors—like the teal river, and the old lady’s colorful candy house with a pink roof—readers find images that playfully remind them of the natural environment around them.

      Hansel, Gretel, and The Ugly Duckling is a fun, quick read that will have the reader rooting for the duckling and relieved to see that he’s become the “…SWAN!” I highly recommend this blend of two classics!

Highly Recommended.

Jessica Kluthe is the author of Rosina, The Midwife (Brindle & Glass, 2013) a lyrical book about motherhood, midwifery, and migration.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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