• Duckling Ugly

    Cara is so ugly, mirrors would rather break than show her reflection. Not even her own parents can deny her ugliness, and nothing can make up for the cruelty of her schoolmates. Tormented and tortured by the shallow people of Flock’s Rest, Cara’s life is miserable. Then Cara receives a shimmering note from some exotic place suggesting that there’s more to her than meets the eye. Cara wonders if her destiny has something to do with her recurring dreams of a beautiful green valley where the people are so accepting, her ugliness doesn’t matter. Soon, Cara discovers that her valley of dreams is real. It’s a place where the ugliest of ducklings can become swans. A swan, however, can have a serious taste for revenge . . . deadly revenge.

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From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up-This third book in the series stars Cara De Fido, who is so ugly that her reflection breaks mirrors. She’s a champion speller but even that accomplishment is spoiled after she’s tricked into spelling words like grotesque and abomination at a spelling bee. She suffers from a type of sleepwalking she calls sleep standing because she doesn’t move. In this state, Cara dreams of a handsome boy in a beautiful green valley. She befriends the town’s other outcast, an old lady who lives in the cemetery, who tells her that she has a destiny that she must search for. After a guy she likes betrays her, she runs away to find her dream place. There, the inhabitants hold the secret to everlasting beauty. Cara longs to be one of the beautiful people, but she can’t forget those she left behind. She goes back but not before being warned that she can only stay away for a short time or she will find that there are worse things than being ugly. By returning, she makes a decision that she knows is wrong but that she can’t help and, as a result, she creates a world of suffering. While not as richly written as the fairy-tale retellings by Donna Jo Napoli or Robin McKinley, Shusterman has created his own dark, edgy, and suspenseful tale that cleverly borrows from such classics as the The Ugly Ducking, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast.

-Sharon Rawlins, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton
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