Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Odd Duck

Theodora swims balancing a teacup on her head, enjoys mango salsa with her duck pellets, and exercises her wings every morning (yet never flies). Claude dyes his feathers strange colors, constructs crazy art projects in his yard, and spends his nights gazing at the stars. So which duck is the odd one?

Cecil Castellucci has written a touching and sophisticated graphic story about two friends who learn to appreciate the other's nonconformity. Readers see the story through Theodora's POV, from the day that Claude moves into the empty house next door--disrupting her routine--to their gradual realization that "even though they were very different, they felt the same way about most things."

Then one day as the pair waddle past a group of snickering ducks, they overhear one remark, "Look at that odd duck." Theodora and Claude each assume the comment was meant for the other. Their fallout drives them back to their respective houses and appears to end the friendship. But Theodora finds life isn't the same without her odd friend and ultimately comes to a realization about herself.

Books about friendship are big with six to ten year olds, the group this book is clearly aimed at. Young readers will find much to enjoy in the six short chapters. And the illustrations are a joy, with hundreds of details for readers to ponder in the duck universe that Varon creates. In fact, pairing Castellucci, best known for her YA graphic novels, with Varon (Robot Dreams) was an inspired choice. Both are rather odd ducks themselves (in the best possible way) and their collaboration is proof that birds of a feather flock together!

Odd Duck
by Cecil Castellucci
illustrations by Sara Varon
First Second, 96 pages
Published: May 2013

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