This is a prehistoric version of the Ugly Duckling. When the duckbilled dinosaurs egg is accidentally mixed in with the eggs in a tyrannosaurus’s nest, the duckbilled is raised as one of their own. He is mocked by the family for looking weak and having a mouth like a beak. He refuses to eat meat, dining instead on vegetation. When the family chants “Up with hunting! Up with war! Up with bellyfuls of duckbilled dinosaur!” The little duckbill sings the opposite.
The tyrannosauruses are eager to cross the river and fill their bellies with duckbilled dinosaur but this is impossible because they cannot swim. The little duckbill discovers he can and makes friends with the animals living on the other embankment. When a tree falls across the river, it is the little duckbill who saves the other duckbilled dinosaurs.
While this book is pro-planet-based diet, and I’m all for that, it seems a little harsh on the tyrannosauruses who are following their own natural instincts. In order to make their defeat more palatable the author has painted them as war crazy monsters. Fortunately, they are not killed in the end but simply washed out to sea. They were, after all, his parents for a while.
Children will enjoy the fact that the littlest duckbill is the one who saves everyone. In spite of being bullied, he has grown up with a positive and loving nature. In the end, he is welcomed into his new/original tribe.
Children who love tyrannosaurus rexes might not like their defeat but it is a funny twist of events. It shows that wits can overcome might. Children who find themselves surrounded by bigger, tougher siblings and neighbors may feel comforted by this unusual story.