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TOON LEVEL: 2
INTEREST LEVEL: Age 5+
READING LEVEL: Grades 1-2
LEXILE LEVEL: AD470L
F&P LEVEL: K
AUTHOR: David Sedaris
ILLUSTRATOR: Ian Falconer
8.375" x 11"
RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2024
About the Book
David Sedaris and Ian Falconer make a spectacular splash with this tale of a monster turned ugly—stuck with a human face!
In this beautifully gross picture book, Anna Van Ogre’s lovely monster face turns into that of a sickeningly adorable, rosy-cheeked little girl—and it’s not switching back! Can she find a way to stop looking like an ugly human and regain her gorgeous monstrosity of a face? The dynamic duo of nationally acclaimed comedian DAVIS SEDARIS and renowned children's book author IAN FALCONER comes together to ponder the perpetually relevant question: is true beauty really on the inside?
A PW Spring Comics Top 10 Book
★★★ “Disgustingly hilarious [...] Adult readers will recognize hints of Maurice Sendak and William Steig and maybe even a smattering of Tim Burton in this remarkable outsider tale [...] Consider this little monstrosity a much-needed corrective to smarmy platitudes.” — Kirkus STARRED REVIEW
"Please believe me when I tell you that you have never, in all your life long days, experienced anything like this book before. [...] be grateful that we were all at the right place in the right time for a book like Pretty Ugly to exist."
— School Library Journal
“An elegant standalone that showcases the creators’ urbane morality….for any reader who craves a celebration of individuality with a high yuck quotient.” — Publishers Weekly
“Readers will cackle over this one….displays the author’s wicked sense of humor. Falconer’s artwork perfectly channels the story with his simple yet masterful line drawings with a touch of color….for elementary school kids who like wicked humor.” — Youth Services Book Review
“[..] Demonstrates an appealing, Olivia-esque joie de vivre.” — The New York Times
“I wish you could have seen my daughter’s expression at the reveal—equal parts shock and horror and delight—at the end of PRETTY UGLY (ages 5-7). I’m talking the kind of reaction that could fuel you for another year of reading aloud [...] that’s picture book magic for ya.” — Melissa LaSalle, @thebookmommy
“For every kid out there who HOPED their face would stick when Gramma said 'If you keep making that face, it’s going to stick like that.' Well, this one's for them.” — Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
“As children we have all been warned if we keep making an ugly face, it might just stick that way. Pretty Ugly explores this age old warning while teaching us that beauty comes from the inside and is often in the eye of the beholder.” — Manager, Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA
About the Authors
David Sedaris was born in Johnson City, New York, and now lives part of the time in England and part of the time in New York City. He is the author of thirteen books, including Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk—which was illustrated by Ian Falconer—and Happy-Go-Lucky. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and to BBC Radio 4. Pretty Ugly was inspired by his sister Amy, who makes the world’s scariest faces.
Amy Sedaris says: “All my life I’ve been making faces, at first to imitate people and then just to see just how far I could take it. I think maybe some of my head bones are missing. It doesn’t make sense, the way I can move my features around. It’s like I’m a sock puppet. As I get older, I’m finding it even easier. Perhaps I’ve developed muscles that allow me to fold myself up in increasingly strange ways. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful.”
Ian Falconer was a painter and illustrator whose work appeared on many New Yorker covers. He designed sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Atlantic Theater Company’s Off-Broadway production of David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries, among many others. His first children’s book, Olivia, became a bestseller and an instantclassic, won a Caldecott Honor, and was followed by eight more Olivia books and a TV series. Falconer passed away in 2023, at the young age of sixty-three, right after helping to put this book together.
Prepared by Richard Kutner, the head of the TOON Educational Team, our Teacher Guide outlines the ELA Common Core Standards to support standards-based instruction in the classroom using Pretty Ugly by David Sedaris and Ian Falconer.
The objectives for students include: