cover image The Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling

Hans Christian Andersen, Marianna Mayer. MacMillan Publishing Company, $15.95 (39pp) ISBN 978-0-02-765130-0

Mayer's version of this story isn't necessarily better for its elaborate plot and long-winded road toward that familiar resolution. This time the duckling and his mother are warned by a Peking duck in the farmyard that they may be in for a surprise. But the duckling, humiliated by the constant teasing and bullying of the other animals, runs away. He sees swans fly overhead and longs to join them; later he is trapped in a frozen lake and rescued by a farmer. But of course, when spring comes, he is a beautiful swan. Mayer has elongated the Andersen tale; in doing so she has made it ponderous. It lacks the lighter touches, both humorous and poignant, found in other versions. Locker's evocative landscapes, in a classical setting, show the fleeting colors of passing seasons. (All ages)