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Quackenstein Hatches a Family

California Readers 2011 Book Collection

Crack open this tale of family and fright, as cute as it is creepy. All the animals in the zoo have friends and family to play with and love. All of them, that is, except Quackenstein. Lonely and bitter in his ramshackle corner, he decides to adopt an egg. He cares for it diligently, waiting until the moment when it will hatch a baby duck of his own.


On a dark and stormy night, the egg hatches, Quackenstein cackles, and lightning strikes, but wait—what’s this? That baby’s not a duck! What will he do? Where can he hide? And will Quackenstein ever find someone (or something) to cuddle?

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"In the darkest corner of the zoo / There stood a gloomy shack. / A nearby scrawl / Read: ‘KEEP OUT ALL!! / JUST LEAVE ME BE! Signed QUACK.’ ” The misanthropic duck is crabby because he alone has no family, so when he sees a clutch of “ORPHANED EGGS: HOMES NEEDED,” he decides to adopt. But what he hatches (“IT’S ALIVE!” he gloats) is no duck, and the panicked fowl takes off through a dark and stormy night, pursued by his mutant hatchling. Jones gleefully uses every cliché in the book, from lurid lettering and backgrounds to effective use of silhouettes and shadows. Bardhan-Quallen, too, takes advantage of horror-movie tropes, but she also mixes in some instruction in the form of cumulative nouns for animals. The surprise twist at the end happily resolves Quack’s fatherless state.."

— Kirkus Reviews

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