Skip to main content

Odd Duck by Cecil Castelucci and Sara Varon, 96pp, RL 2

Odd Duck is the newest book from my favorite of favorites, Sara Varon. Varon has teamed up with YA author Cecil Castelucci for yet another slightly off center, silly-sweet story with a subtle, superb message. Looking back over her works, friendship seems to be an ongoing theme for Varon and that is definitely the case with Odd Duck.  

Theodora has a routine and her days are filled doing the things that bring her joy in her own precise manner. When Chad moves into the empty house next door he brings some questionable items and annoying habits with him but, Theodora "prided herself on being a gracious bird. She was determined to make the best of a bad situation." She bakes him a cake and, when she delivers it to him it is such a strange experience that she determines she will not be friends with him.

However, things change. After living next to Chad for a while, their paths cross again and soon Chad is showing Theodora things she had never considered before and her world is opening up in wonderful ways. But, this is a Sara Varon graphic novel so you know there is a a big left-turn coming.

While Theodora thinks she has expanded her world to include this odd duck, she is shaken when she overhears a comment. Chad hears the same thing. Each duck thinks Velma's words were directed at the other duck and their friendship is shaken.

I don't want to give too much more away, but I love how Castelucci and Varon resolve this dilemma. Also, Odd Duck is a beautifully produced book that is worth buying in hardcover. The case (I just learned that this is the term for the hard cover of a book usually hidden by the dust jacket) has a great illustration on it, as do the end papers! There is even a bonus page, "How to Drink Tea Like Theodora," that, besides tea brewing instructions, has hand-drawn labels created by Varon that (if you own the book) you can cut out and attach over the label on the tea you are brewing! Varon also, very thoughtfully, instructs readers to make a COPY of this page if they have borrowed Odd Duck from a friend or the library...

Sara Varon's books reviewed at

Robot Dreams                    Bake Sale

Picture books by Sara Varon


More graphic novels by Sara Varon


Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…