Monday, May 7, 2012

Book #128: Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen

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Mother Duck was reading and didn’t notice that a big brown egg had rolled into her nest with her small white eggs. When the eggs hatched the first three were ordinary ducklings, but the baby from the brown egg was rather odd looking. This duckling had a long snout, four legs, and teeth; in fact, he looked rather like a crocodile. Mother Duck named him Guji Guji and loved him just as much as her other ducklings. Guji Guji was very happy until the day the three bad crocodiles came out of the lake. They laughed at him for acting like a duck and pointed out all his crocodile-like features. Then they asked Guji Guji to help his fellow crocodiles out by bringing the entire duck flock to the bridge the next day for diving practice. Is Guji Guji able to think of a plan to save his friends from becoming crocodile dinner?

Named an American Library Association Notable Book, Guji Guji was originally published in Taiwanese. The text, skillfully translated into English, includes both dialogue and narration that moves the story along at a brisk pace. The illustrations use a muted color palate of browns and blues with highlights of primary colors. Chen’s crocodiles are especially unique, with blue-grey bodies and deep blue noses. Guji Guji is an endearing mix of duck and crocodile, or “crocoduck” as Mother Duck calls him. He walks with his snout up like a duck, his round tummy waddling along.

This is a twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic Ugly Duckling story, but in this version Guji Guji is accepted and loved by the ducks, rather than being bullied and teased. After you read the story, ask the kids how Guji Guji is the same or different from his siblings.

If you use this book for a crocodile storytime, try pairing it with the rhyme, Here Comes the Hungry Crocodile. After you say the rhyme, ask the kids which character in the story would say that rhyme. Alternatively, you could use this book for a duck themed storytime and pair it with rhymes like, Ducks in the Water and I am a Little Duck (make it a crocoduck version by saying “guji, guji, guji” instead of “quack, quack, quack”). You could also modify Duck Duck Goose into Duck Duck Croc.


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