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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan is the first volume in the Lizzy B's Diary series, written by RyAnn Adams Hall and illustrated by Emily Hercock. About to start a brand new year at school, Lizzy B’s mother gifts a diary to her daughter to write down her thoughts, enabling her to capture the cherished memories of her teenage years in her own words. Lizzy fears that she will be bullied again at school this year for her big nose, mismatched clothing or big teeth, and her fears sadly become reality on the first day of school. When Lizzy starts wearing make-up, her school crush, David, suddenly notices her, much to the annoyance of the school bully, whom Lizzy refers to only as Miss Popular. Too afraid to wear her glasses at school, Lizzy has problems seeing, but doesn’t want to be picked on for something new, regardless of how essential her glasses are. Lizzy’s confidence within herself slowly starts to grow after David asks her to the school dance, but with Miss Popular and her gang of bullies threatening her to stay away from David, Lizzy’s nerves are very much on edge and she worries that she will do something stupid at the dance to scare David away.
This is one of those rare books that left me feeling sad when I had finished reading it, simply because it was the end of the book. I was thrilled to see that RyAnn Adams Hall already has a second diary in the works, following on from the first, and very much look forward to reading about what happens at the school dance and what develops between Lizzy and David. Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan captures the effects of bullying so perfectly. Although I was not a victim of bullying in my high school years, many of my friends were, some of whom have since committed suicide. Bullies never think (or care) about the effects their actions have on those they hurt. RyAnn Adams Hall points out that much of the diary was based on her own childhood, which I find quite tragic. The insecurities and inner-demons which overtake a bully-victim’s mind tend to linger for a lifetime, sometimes becoming all-consuming. I recommend this book to all readers, regardless of age. Seeing the mean girls in action within the pages of this diary makes it clear to readers that bullying can destroy lives. I look forward to reading the follow-up book in the series when it is released.