The Ugly Duckling – Favorite Kids Stories

“The Ugly Duckling”

Storyteller:
It was a lovely golden summer day in the country.  In the middle of a sunny meadow was a large pond and marsh grass grew around it in a thick, green border.  Tucked among the grass was a cozy nest, which held three little snow-white eggs and one large tan colored egg.  A nice brown mother duck sat upon the nest, keeping the eggs warm and waiting for them to hatch.

Mother duck:
I am so tired of sittin’ on this nest.  I wish I could be down at the dock with all the other ducks swimming, and chattin’ and catchin’ good things to eat, but I’ll just have to wait for my little babies to hatch.

Storyteller:
And just as the Mother Duck said this, she heard a little “quack!”

Baby duck:
Quack! Quack!

Mother duck:
Oh my!  Are my little finally breaking out of their shells?

Storyteller:
She hopped up and stared into the nest.

Baby ducks:
All quacking.

Mother duck:
Oh, just look at this!  Three perfect little yellow puff-balls.  They’re the finest ducklings ever born!  I’m so pleased with you, my children.

Baby ducks:
Simultaneous quacking.

Mother duck:
Now my dears, just walk about in the grass and look around you at your beautiful green world.  Hmmm, you know I think there should be four of you, not just three.

Storyteller:
The mother duck looked back down into her nest.  The large tan egg was still sitting there.  It had not even begun to crack open.

Mother duck:
Oh well, great.  How much longer will I have to wait for this one?  It doesn’t look like it’ll be ready to hatch for days.  I’m just so tired of sitting here.

Storyteller:
As the mother duck plopped herself back on the nest, another duck swam up to her and waddled up onto the bank.

Sister duck:
Are you still sitting on that nest?  I thought for sure I’d be able to see my little nieces and nephews by now.

Mother duck:
Oh thank you for comin’!  I’m so glad to have a visitor.  Look over there and you will see three of my darlin’ babies.

Sister duck:
Ooooh, they are the finest ducklings I’ve seen in years.  Almost as beautiful as my own, but why are you still sittin’ on that nest?

Mother duck:
Because I still have one more to hatch.

Sister duck:
Hmm…let me see it.

Storyteller:
The mother duck moved aside so the other duck could peek into the nest.

Sister duck:
Oh, good heavens that’s a turkey egg or worse yet, a vulture egg.  Oh, knock it out of the nest and let it sink in the water.  I tell you, a turkey sneaked one of its eggs into my nest once and when it hatched I couldn’t do a thing with it.  No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make it get into the water.

Mother duck:
Oh, really this is no turkey egg.  It’s my egg.  I’m sure it just takes after its father – big and slow.

Sister duck:
Well, do what you want with it, don’t say I didn’t warn you. There’ll no teaching that bird to swim, just you wait and see.

Storyteller:
With that, the visiting duck swam off without even saying goodbye.

Mother duck:
Children, stay near to me.  We will have to wait just a few more days before I can introduce you to the Queen Duck.  Your brother or sister has not hatched yet, so we’ll just have to stay here until he or she is ready.

Storyteller:
Finally after three days’ time, the big egg began to crack open.

Mother duck:
Oh, how exciting!  My last little duckling has arrived.

Ugly duckling:
Honk-honk-honk!

Mother duck:
Oh, what an awful sound he makes!  What an ugly duckling he is.

Baby ducks:
Ugly, ugly, ugly!

Mother duck:
Sister duck must’ve been right.  My duckling is a turkey.  Well, if he can’t swim, then that settles it.  I’ll just leave him right here on the shore.  Come children, we’re going into the water now.

Storyteller:
All the little ducklings splashed into the water and swam away with easy grace.  The ugly duckling swam the best of all.

Mother duck:
Well, I must admit you swim very well.  You must be my child.  It’s a shame you’re so very ugly, though.

Baby ducks:
Ugly, ugly, ugly!

Ugly duckling:
Honk-honk-honk!

Mother duck:
Oh, that noise!

Ugly duckling:
Honk!  Oh, sorry mother.  Honk-honk.

Mother duck:
Oh, my.  Come children.  It’s time to meet the Queen Duck.  Remember, she has royal Spanish blood in her and must be treated with respect.  Bow your heads to her and speak only if spoken to.  And you, ugly little son, you don’t say anything.

Storyteller:
The mother duck proudly led her ducklings to the dock across the pond.

Queen duck:
Ooh, what a lovely brood of ducklings my dear!  Three real beauties.

Mother duck:
Oh why thank you, your highness.

Queen duck:
Uh, wha, uh what’s that other thing swimming with you?

Mother duck:
Oh, uh, that, well that’s my son.

Queen Duck:
Oh, eww, he’s hideous.  Get him out of my sight!

Baby ducklings:
Ugly, ugly, ugly!

Mother duck:
I’m so sorry your majesty.  Quickly children, follow me home.

Storyteller:
All the other ducks, except the queen of course, dove off the dock and swam over to the ugly duckling.  They nipped at his head and neck and beat him with their wings.  The poor ugly duckling tried to swim close to his mother and sisters for protection, but all of them nipped at him and swam away.

Baby ducklings:
Ugly, ugly, ugly!

Mother duck:
I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life!

Storyteller:
The duckling was so afraid of all the biting and meanness that he climbed out of the pond and began to run just as fast as his short little legs and tiny web feet would carry him.  He ran through the meadows.  He ran through the fields.  He ran right into the forest and only then did he stop to think how far he was from his water home.  His feet were scratched and sore.  He didn’t want to take another step.  As he stared before him, wondering what to do next, he saw a cottage almost hidden by all the trees.  He limped to the cottage door and was greeted by an old woman.

Old woman:
Oh, what an ugly duckling.  Why she’s the ugliest duckling I’ve ever seen, but no matter.  She’ll grow up and lay delicious duck eggs.  Of course, if it’s not a girl, there will be no duck eggs.  Then I guess we’ll just have roast duck.  It’s just too young for me to know what it is, girl or boy.  We’ll just have to wait awhile and see.

Storyteller:
In a few weeks, the duckling got much bigger and even uglier and he didn’t lay any eggs.

Old woman:
Well, I said I’d roast the duck if it couldn’t lay eggs, but you know, you’d be such an ugly roast duck I wouldn’t have the appetite to eat you and I will not feed you anymore.  So, leave, leave you ugly bird!

Storyteller:
And with that, the old woman kicked the duck off the porch.  The duck ran and ran.  In a few hours, he came to a small lake.  He was so happy to see the water, he jumped in and swam around in lazy circles.  Suddenly the most beautiful bird he’d ever seen in his life appeared before him.  It had silver-white feathers and a long, graceful neck.  It was a swan.

Before he could even say a word, it spread its long, lovely wings and flew into the air.  He watched it fly farther and farther away from him.  The ugly duckling felt so alone.

Summer turned to fall and fall turned to winter.  The little lake began to freeze.  The duckling watched the ice close in on him more every day.  One morning he woke to find his legs frozen in the ice.  He tried to free himself but the ice held him tight.  But a kindly woodsman came along and noticed the poor little duckling.  He chopped the ice from around the bird’s feet and picked him up and took him home.  As the woodsman entered his home, the duckling saw a woman chopping vegetables with a huge, sharp knife.  Thinking he was to become dinner, he jumped from the man’s arms and flew into the forest.  The duckling stayed in the cold, cold woods until spring came again.  Then he went back to the pond where he was born.

Ugly duckling:
I, I know my mother and sisters and all the other ducks will hate me as much as ever but I’m so lonely, I don’t even care.

Beautiful swan:
And who are you talking to, beautiful one?

Ugly duckling:
I can’t believe it!  You’re the big silver-white bird I saw long ago.  I wanted so much to speak to you then but you didn’t even see me.  Please don’t tease me by calling me beautiful.  I know how ugly I am.

Storyteller:
The ugly duckling began to cry and tell the lovely bird all about his sad life.  When he had finished, the swan then told her story.

Beautiful swan:
Last spring I had a nest just off a little way on the hill over there.  In that nest, I had one perfect egg.  I sat on that egg every day, keeping it nice and warm.  I watched the ducks play in the cool water of the pond.  I hadn’t been able to swim in that pond for days and days.  I had to keep my nest, but one day, the water was just too beautiful and I just wanted to dip my feet in it for a moment.  I left the nest and when I came back, my egg was gone.  Something had tipped my nest over and I knew the egg must have rolled down the hill and into the grass at the water’s edge.  I searched and searched for the egg but could not find it.  I started to cry then because I knew it must have fallen all the way into the water and sank.

Ugly duckling:
Ohoh, how sad for you.

Beautiful swan:
No, don’t you see?  That egg rolled down hill into the nest of the duck you thought was your mother.  A duck hatched you but I am your mother.

Ugly duckling:
Ohh, you can’t be my mother.  How could anything as beautiful as you have a son as ugly as I am?

Beautiful swan:
You’re not ugly anymore my darling.  Just look into the still water and see your reflection there.

Storyteller:
The duckling stared into the water and saw looking back into his face a silver-white bird with a long graceful neck.

Ugly duckling:
W-What has happened to me.  What am I?

Beautiful swan:
You have grown up, my love.  You are a swan, just like me.  And now I would like to present my son to the Queen Duck.  I don’t think she’ll be calling you hideous and ugly this time.

Storyteller:
The pair of white swans glided over the pond and stopped before the Queen Duck.  What a beautiful sight they were!

Queen Duck:
Oh my, never have I seen anything more lovely than you birds.  You must be royalty.  A queen and a prince!

Storyteller:
The frump little Queen Duck bowed over very low to show her respect.

Beautiful swan:
Bye, Madam Duck.  My son and I must go.

Queen Duck:
Oh, do come back anytime.  It’s such an honor having you here.

Storyteller:
The ugly duckling who was now a swan smiled to himself.  At last, he was respected for what he was.  He looked at his mother and then to the sky and all of a sudden, the silver birds opened their wings and flew to the clouds and far beyond.