Graphic novels are one of my (relatively) new favorite discoveries in the world of books. There are so many great ones out there, and so many good new things being created all the time! I love seeing new art forms expand to different types of readers, so I loved discovering Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon. It’s a short graphic novel that reads a bit more like a picture book; not all of the pages are broken into frames, and sometimes the text just runs along the bottom or top of the page, like a traditional picture book. But there is nothing traditional about the characters here.
We are first introduced to Theodora Duck, who is perfectly normal, thank you very much, and also likes to swim laps in her pond with a teacup on her head (for posture), add mango salsa to her duck pellets, and stay home and quilt while all the other ducks are flying south for the winter. She is happy and content with her life, until a truly odd duck—Chad—moves in next door. Chad dyes his feathers, talks too much, and is much too disorganized for Theodora. She spends a lot of energy fussing over his differences and her bad luck at being stuck with such an odd neighbor, and is very distressed when it turns out that Chad also likes to stay at home for the winter, instead of flying south with all the other ducks. But he does have a very nice telescope…and Theodora loves to look at the stars. Of course, the two neighbors end up forming a bond, recognizing that age-old sign of “me too” friendship, that “even though they were very different, they felt the same about most things.” Their friendship faces a trial when each accuses the other of being the oddest duck, but thankfully all is set to rights by the end of the story.
I just love the conclusion: “It’s not so bad to be odd…not when you have an odd friend!” Theodora and Chad remind me of so many of my own friendships; I know my closest friends look past my quirks and really appreciate me for who I am, as I do for them. This is a great story about friendship-building, as well as one that I’d pull out for a kid who was feeling a little left out or like an “odd duck” himself. It can be so encouraging to be reminded that there are other “odd ducks” out there, even if they’re not odd in exactly the same ways as you. The art is whimsical and quite funny—I chuckled at multiple points about the little action words and sidebars that make this more graphic novel than picture book. Illustrator Sara Varon also has some other friendship tales, including one called Bake Sale, starring a cupcake and an eggplant. (!) Guess what’s on my to-read list? Here’s to more fun, great graphic novels for kids!
Featured image by First Second Books