Review: Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci

odd duck

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon

Theodora was a very busy duck.  She exercised every day, she swam laps in the pond (with a teacup on her head), she ran her errands every afternoon, she rode her bike rather than flying, and in the evening she quietly watched the stars.  She had the perfect life of routine and quiet until a strange duck moved in next door.  Chad was not like Theodora.  He was an artist who made sculptures out of found objects, he colored his feathers, and he liked dancing and swimming in a wild fashion.  When fall came and the other ducks flew south, Theodora and Chad were the only two left.  Over the winter, they became fast friends.  But when someone implied that one of them as an “odd duck” the question became which of them they were talking about.

Castellucci beautifully tells the story of a duck who is obviously unique and then another duck who is unique as well.  Readers will at first think that it is about accepting others who are different from you, but the author has something deeper in mind here.  It’s about also accepting that you yourself are the odd duck.  As we all know we are!

Varon’s illustrations have wonderful small touches.  Make sure you check out the titles on her books, since they are good for an additional chuckle.  Her characters are winning and cheery, both so very comfortable in their own skin. 

Fun, buoyant and with plenty of depth, this children’s graphic novel should fly off the shelves just like a normal duck.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.

Review: Stardines by Jack Prelutsky


Stardines: Swim High across the Sky and Other Poems by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger

This poetry book takes the wit of Prelutsky and combines it with equally amazing illustrations.  Prelutsky tells of unusual creatures in his poems here.  He writes of creatures who are a mix of animal and inanimate objects.  For example, there are the Slobsters who are very messy lobsters who love being crude and dirty.  There are Plandas who are pandas that sit around and make elaborate plans but never do anything.  Tattlesnakes are snakes who are nosy and always tattling on others.  This menagerie of incredible creatures will be enjoyed by children who love puns and humor.

Prelutsky excels at creating poetry that both of interest to children but will also make them stretch their vocabulary a bit.  He throws in words like “slovenly,” “pretension” and even “lachrymose.”  Thanks to his rhythm and rhymes, these words slide by almost effortlessly and usually the definition can be figured out in the context.  He also has woven puns and humor into all of the poems, nicely creating creatures that speak more to the human condition than to the animal. 

It is Berger’s art that really makes this book an incredible read.  Thanks to her dioramas that show the creatures in collages and boxes, the book is a true exploration of the intriguing.  She has deftly incorporated pins and labels that make the illustrations look like lab specimens, but without hampering all of the action in the images by pinning down the animals themselves. 

Thrilling illustrations and superb children’s poetry create a poetry book that is wild, funny and a delight to read.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.