Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Illustrator: Sara Varon
Publisher: First Second
Theodora is a normal duck. She does her morning laps with a cup of tea on her head to maintain her posture, eats her duck food with mango salsa, reads books that haven’t been checked out from the library in years, and didn’t travel south for the winter with the other ducks, but there was nothing strange about all of that. Her new neighbor, Chad, however, is an odd duck. He is just not the kind of duck that she wants to spend time with. She looks forward to winter when he will fly south, but he doesn’t leave. During that winter, Theodora learns that she and Chad have a lot more in common that she would have guessed. When they get into a fight about who is the most odd, they decide that in spite of their oddness, they like each other just the way they are.
Odd Duck is a fun story with a great message. The illustrator includes a lot of side notes and comments to talk about what is happening, adding to the vocabulary that children can learn while reading the book. These little touches also add a lot of heart to the book. Readers can learn both not to say hurtful things, but also the bigger message of finding things in common instead of differences to make friendships. The message is not too didactic, and the fun duck characters feel real and relatable. The graphic novel, picture book hybrid with six short chapters is a great format for young readers or for read-aloud situations. This style can help those who want to read more advanced chapter books with illustrations, but aren’t ready for them yet. Readers will enjoy Theodora and how she learns that sometimes differences are a good thing.