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Literature / The Sissy Duckling

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The Sissy Duckling is a children's picture book by Harvey Fierstein and illustrated by Henry Cole. It is a spin on the classic story The Ugly Duckling.

The Sissy Duckling tells the tale of a duckling named Elmer. Elmer is not like other drakes his age. He'd rather stay inside and make nests than play outside. Elmer is quite a feminine drake. His personality causes him to be teased and ostrasized by the other ducks, who call Elmer a "sissy".

The book was given an animated special by HBO in 1999.


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The Sissy Duckling gives examples of:

  • Animated Adaptation: The Sissy Duckling received one in 1999.
  • Berserk Button: Mother Duck hates when she's accused of being "overbearing" with Elmer by her husband. In the animated special, she actually punches her husband as a response to his feelings for his son.
  • Dream Sequence: The 1999 special has a musical dream sequence set inside a black background with characters drawn in colorful outlines. We see Elmer dreaming of succeeding in school and making his mother proud as a grown duck. The song is called "Time Takes Time" which is played during the special's credits.
  • The Bully: Elmer ends up bullied by several other ducklings once he starts school.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted despite being a TV-Y7 cartoon. Elmer's mom tells her hypermasculine husband to stop acting like he's in a beer commercial.
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  • Furry Confusion: An Imagine Spot musical number shows non-anthropomorphic ducks flying and sitting in water. The special also shows that anthropomorphic ducks fly south as well. When they're flying south, suddenly non-Funny Animal ducks who only quack appear. Hunters, with non-anthropomorphic dogs, pop up and start shooting the birds down.
  • Furry Female Mane: Most of the ducks, male and female, have feathers shaped like hair (usually in the same colour as their body feathers).
  • Humanlike Animal Aging: They age slower than real ducks, however in the span of a year the newly hatched ducks turn into teens.
  • Interactive Narrator: In the animated special, the narrator is sometimes seen interacting with some of the story's characters. Notably Elmer who is frequently correcting her by saying "unique" instead of calling him "different".
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Elmer is an effeminate duckling who likes fashion and playing with dolls.
  • Mama Bear: Elmer's mother is very protective of him
  • The Runaway: Elmer run offs to try and find a place where he wouldn't be bullied after his father says that he doesn't want him.
  • Token Minority: The teacher Mrs. Hennypecker is the only non-duck. She's a chicken.
  • Simpleton Voice: Abner has such a voice.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Elmer has a deep, croaky adult voice for a duckling, due to being voiced by Harvey Fierstein himself.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Drake says "It was some long journey from Miami back up here to our home", not mentioning where "our home" is.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Everyone wants Elmer to be more masculine and extoverted than he is. His father's attempts at getting him involved in baseball flops.
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