For my Winner’s Wednesday book I chose The Ugly Duckling, a classic children’s picture book, which was a 2000 Caldecott Honor Book. While this book received this honor 18 years ago, it is just as relevant today as it was then.
The story of The Ugly Duckling follows a “duckling” that does not look like the other ducklings that surround him. He is teased and prodded his whole life, and promptly runs away. Despite running away, he still receives maltreatment from those around him, and suffers through a hard winter and not fitting in. One day, he finds a flock of birds that he wants to follow, and realizes when he looks at his reflection that he looks just like them!
He is actually a swan, not a duckling, and is the most beautiful swan that there is. He learns from this experience that he is glad he was lonely and suffered, because it allowed him to finally experience true happiness when the time arrived and he was able to recognize this.
I think that this picture book has beautiful and engaging illustrations to match the plot of this story. The author and illustrator successfully show the adversity that this duckling experiences, and how it helps him grow in the end when he has finally found his place as a swan.
The Caldecott honor is definitely suitable for this picture book—the pastel colors and beautiful scenery and animals are very inviting to the reader. The illustrations are amazingly detailed and intricate, which I believe is remarkable considering that they were done with watercolors.
This book is still relevant in today’s world, maybe even more so now than when it received this honor 18 years ago. Many children feel out-of-place at some point in their lives, and this story is something that most can relate to if not personally then something that they have witnessed someone close to them experiencing.
It shows that you should be kind to everyone, and not put him or her down due to looking different from you—everyone is unique and that is what makes him or her special. But, it also teaches that eventually, if you are persistent in trying to find happiness, you can find it no matter how much suffering you have endured throughout your life.
This book would be enjoyed by children and adults of every age, and will bring joy to all who read it.