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Odd Duck h/c

Odd Duck h/c back

Cecil Castellucci & Sara Varon



Bravo! A book about cherishing your individuality, celebrating the difference in others and jettisoning neither to suck up to the sheep. Possibly the most important early life lesson ever.

In this instance the sheep are ducks, all gleefully and colourfully portrayed like everything else here by Sara Varon, creator of BAKE SALE (perfect for youngster who love cooking), ROBOT DREAMS (a silent and startlingly dark graphic novel recommended to all as a present for a friend you promise never to leave on the metaphorical beach) and contributor to NURSERY RHYME COMICS whose iconoclastic visualisation of traditional infant ditties will entertain the adults who read it aloud as much as the youngsters who listen.

There is so much attention to detail, as evidenced by the opening double-page spread of the mildly eccentric Theodora who sleeps in a waterbed with a difference. Makes perfect sense if you are an anthropomorphised duck. Theodora is sartorially genteel and decades out of fashion and swims in a straight line in smartly polished shoes and a bathing cap with a cup of tea on her head. She buys all the regular duck food but likes to spice it up a bit with some mango salsa who nobody else will buy. She borrows all the regularly recommended books from the local library but is aesthetically curious and so checks out several each week that have been so neglected that they have literally gathered dust! She even likes to try her hand at crafts which no ordinary duck would even consider.

But she likes her routine, does our quiet Theodora and she’s slightly stuck in her ways. So when a new neighbour arrives Theodora is slightly apprehensive. Chad is not the sort she is used to; in fact he is decidedly outré. He makes unconventional conceptual sculptures in his garden, dyes his feathers in multi-coloured highlights, and sings enthusiastically yet off-key while violently dancing to loud music. Theodora likes to exercise every morning too, but she does so with dignity. And although she tries to reach out with a neighbourly cake and Chad receives her with zeal… no, it will never work out.

I loved everything about this. It has been so well thought-through, especially the clash of the idiosyncrasies. Nor does this journey safely on in the straightforward trajectory you’d anticipate. Yes, Theodora and Chad do make friends because, in spite of their differences, they have so much in common.

But careless, callous spite, when overheard, can be so upsetting, can’t it? And it always comes from those snickering together safely in a circle.

Don’t worry, it all works out fine: this is a gloriously positive message for each and every child in the world. Embrace your unique talents and interests and deportment – even if others consider you odd! Enthusiasm is a glorious thing.