The Lumpy Duckling

Another Weaver Tale

Category: Chapbooks for Tweens
Author: Kai Strand
Hardcover ISBN: 9781616335489: 1616335483
Paperback ISBN: 9781616335496: 1616335491
eBook ISBN: 9781616335502; 1616335505

Lumpy may be hefty with a misshapen mouth, but he’s funny and the most loyal friend Wheezy could ask for. When she meets Unwanted (the magical blue gnome elf), she casts a wish for people to be able to see her best friend like she does. But her wish nearly kills him.

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Chapter One
Sneezy Wheezy
The only thing they have in common
is that they are best friends

“Now where has that girl gone?” Mrs. Frickles grumbled. “Eloise Talemaker?”

Eloise popped up from behind the lab table. A clump of frizzy red hair, an escapee from her pigtails, rested like a veil over her left eye. She blew at it ineffectively. “Here, Mrs. Frickles. I guess I was carrying my folder upside down, because my papers fell out. I’m just retrieving them, ma’am.”

The teacher lifted her gaze to the ceiling before taking a deep breath. A frequent reaction she saved for the girl who squatted to the floor again and continued scooping up her papers. “Very well, Eloise. Make it quick.” Glancing across the room she smiled fondly at Wendell and checked his name off on the roll sheet.

Not one to allow an opportunity to make fun of a less popular classmate pass her by, Tosh hissed a tale at Eloise.
“Sneezy Wheezy—such a klutz.
The start of class she is prolonging,
by dropping all her prized belongings.
She should just sit on her…butts.”

Eloise, or Wheezy as all the kids called her, shook her head. “Tosh, stick to horror stories. Rhyme isn’t your thing.”

“Horror?” Tosh crossed her arms over her chest and spun on her lab stool presenting her back to Wheezy.

Smiling to herself, Wheezy stuffed her papers into her folder. Tosh’s usual style of Word Weaving was actually a pretty standard storytelling voice, nothing close to horror, but Wheezy couldn’t resist the dig at the girl’s mean personality. With all her papers collected, Wheezy scrambled onto her own stool at the table next to Tosh just in time for Mrs. Frickles to start the day’s lesson.

Wheezy’s next class was history. She gathered her belongings and followed her classmates out the door.

A fresh layer of spring snow had fallen the night before. The morning warmed enough for it to begin to melt off, and lavender, purple, yellow, and white crocuses poked holes through their nighttime blanket to greet the students while they walked through town from class to class. The town of The Tales was unique in that classes were held in people’s homes. History expert, Mr. Middy, taught class in the front sitting room of his house. Wheezy plunked onto a cushy couch next to Harken Herald.

“Hey Hark.” Wheezy yanked the tie off her left pigtail, recaptured the wayward hank of hair and re-tied it again.

Hark blinked at her. “Uneven.”

Wheezy shrugged. “Just so it stays in this time.”

The couch cushion under Wheezy puffed with air, launching her sideways into Hark. She giggled and leveraged herself against his arm so she could push herself back into the middle of the couch. The burst of air tickled her nose. She sucked in one breath, two breaths, and finally a sneeze burst from her.

Hark grunted in frustration, frowning at Poesy before offering a blessing to Wheezy.

“That never gets old,” Poesy said, smirking at Hark. She set her messenger bag on the floor unconcerned about the growing puddle of snow melting off her boots. She looked at Wheezy expectantly.

The second and third sneezes followed. Wheezy’s sneezes were always divisible by three.

“Bless you. Your pigtails are uneven.” Poesy reached for the one Wheezy just fixed.

Fluttering her lids to clear her watery eyes, Wheezy flipped her head to present the other one. “I have a hank that keeps escaping that one, so they have to be higher.”

“Not. A. Problem.” Poesy stuck her tongue out of the corner of her mouth while she worked to even up her friend’s hairstyle.

Wheezy scowled when Tosh sauntered through the front door, batting her eyelashes at the class heartthrob, Edward Telling. The two popular kids didn’t even glance in Wheezy’s direction. She and her friends were considered a non-issue unless the perfect opportunity to tease one of them presented itself, like it had in science that morning. (continued)


Today I’m reviewing Another Weaver Tale, The Lumpy Duckling, by Kai Strand. This is the third in her series, and I love it as much or maybe even more than the other two, which I’ve also reviewed. The first book, The Weaver, sets up the story of the Tales, a village of “Word Weavers.” The Wishing Well is the next installment of these quirky wordsmiths. This is a great concept for a series. It showcases the author’s use of various writing styles, humor, and an endless cast of special characters. In the third book, The Lumpy Duckling, we meet new characters with an exciting action scene plus a friendship that may grow into something more.

This is a wonderful story of loyalty and friendship. It also shows how one’s fears and insecurities sometimes sabotage the good things we have in our lives. Like Wheezy, we have to learn to trust, to accept change, to be patient and understanding, and to try not to jump to conclusions. The end is most satisfying, but it’s an exciting, nerve-wracking ride getting there. The Lumpy Duckling is a different look and take on the story of “the ugly duckling.” This book is highly recommended for middle grade readers. ~Reviewed by Penelope Anne Cole, Award Winning Author of Magical Matthew, Mágico Mateo (Spanish Version), Magical Mea, and Ten Little Tricksters