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Not judging a book by its cover: The duck who became a pop star

To reflect on the idea of accepting people for who they are (SEAL theme 3: Say no to bullying).

by Emma Burford

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect on the idea of accepting people for who they are (SEAL theme 3: Say no to bullying).

Preparation and materials

  • All children can take part in the performance; the script is suitable for children to perform who are in Years 3 to 6.
  • Staging ideas: On six large pieces of card, write the words: Television studio; The Quack’s home; Pond; Duckpond School; On the road; Duckpond River Village. Hold these up to indicate a change of scene.
  • Costume ideas: there needs to be a difference between the Ducks and the Swans – black and white T-shirts, hats or tunics can be sufficient for this.
  • Children can make fan posters and even make cameras and a microphone for the class to use when filming the interview. Great for any children who would like non-speaking roles.
  • Bible passage: Matthew 7.1–5.


  1. Say that today we are going to think about a very important moral. In the Bible, in Matthew chapter 7, we read that Jesus said, ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.’ We will explore what this means with a modern version of a story that many of you may know.
  2. The Duck Who Became a Pop Star

    Swan 1
    Swan 2

    The Quack family:
    Angela (mother)
    Young Andre
    – Aggie
    –  Albert

    Geraldine the Goose
    Gemma the Goose

    The Bullies:
    – Tony
    – Tom
    – Tina

    Mr Feathers, the teacher
    Sally the Squirrel
    Ronald the Rabbit

    (The play opens in a television studio. The Presenter enters, stands in the centre)

    Presenter   Thank you for tuning into Popstars Weekly, the TV programme that tells you everything you want to know about your favourite pop bands and singers. This week we interview the new pop sensation that’s sweeping the animal kingdom. They’ve just released their first single and it’s gone straight to number one. Please welcome – The Swans!

    (Enter Andre and Swans 1 and 2)

    Presenter   Hi, guys, thank you for coming to see us today. We’re so interested to know: How did you guys form your pop band?

    Swan 1   Well, me and Stan, we were a duo for a while, touring the bars and clubs in the animal kingdom.

    Swan 2   But our manager felt that we could be more successful if we had a third member – and that’s when we met Andre.

    Presenter   Yes, Andre, you’ve often hinted at your troubled past and how you didn’t fit in. We would love for you to tell your story on Popstars Weekly.

    Andre   Well, Fiona, it’s been a long journey but I now feel ready to share my story with the world.

    (Angela, Albert and Aggie enter)

    Andre   It all began when I first came into this world – as a duck.

    (The Presenter, Andre and Swans 1 and 2 move to front right and turn to watch)

    Scene One: the Quack’s home

    Aggie   Mum! Mum! I’m hungry!

    Angela   Yes, sweetheart, I know. We’ll be going to the pond in a while. We’re just waiting for your brother. He took a while waking up.

    Albert   Mum? Why does Andre not look like me? He’s my brother and I don’t look anything like him!

    Angela   Now, Albert, that’s not a very nice thing to say. Everyone is special and Andre is no different. Wouldn’t it be very boring if we all looked the same?

    Aggie   But I look like Albert!

    Angela   I know, Aggie, and that’s wonderful.

    (Enter Young Andre)

    Young Andre   Sorry! I’m really tired! It’s all your fault, Albert!

    Albert   Why is it my fault?

    Young Andre   You snore!!

    (Young Andre and Aggie run off laughing followed by Albert and Angela)

    Presenter (to Andre)  So you had a good family life?

    Andre   Yes, but I always knew I was different from my brother and sister. I just couldn’t understand why.

    Scene Two: At the pond

    (Geraldine and Gemma Goose are at the pond drinking.)

    (Enter Aggie and Young Andre followed by Albert and Angela)

    Aggie   Come on, Andre, I’ll race you to the pond!

    Albert   And me!

    Angela   Don’t go too far, children!

    Gemma   Geraldine, it’s that family again. You know, with that strange young duck.

    Geraldine   Oh yes, he’s very strange, isn’t he? Not like any young ducks I’ve ever seen.

    Gemma   I don’t know if I want to drink at the same pond as some strange duck.

    Geraldine I know what you mean, let’s go now before Angela sees us.

    (They try to leave)

    Angela   Gemma! Geraldine! How are you both! Isn’t it a lovely day?

    Geraldine (to Gemma)   It was!

    Gemma   Hello, Angela, I’m afraid we can’t stop, we’re very busy this morning.

    Angela   Oh really, doing what?

    (Young Andre runs up to Angela)

    Young Andre   Mum! Mum! Albert kicked me with his big fat flipper!

    (Gemma and Geraldine move away)

    Gemma   Like I said, we really must go!

    (Gemma and Geraldine run out)

    Young Andre   What was that about, Mum?

    Angela   I don’t know, sweetheart. They’re a little strange at the moment.

    Young Andre   It’s because of me, isn’t it?

    Angela   No, darling, it’s not. I don’t ever want you to feel bad because you’re a little different. You should be accepted for who you are, not how you look. You hear me?

    Young Andre   Yes, Mum, I hear you.

    Presenter   (to Andre) That must have been terrible for you.

    Andre   Yes, and at school it wasn’t much better.

    Scene Three: In school

    (Enter Tina, Tom and Tony followed by Young Andre, Aggie and Albert)

    Tina   Look at Andre. I bet he’s not really Aggie’s brother. They don’t look alike.

    Aggie   Yes, he is my brother.

    Tony   I bet he was adopted.

    Young Andre   I wasn’t! I was born with my brother and sister.

    Tom   No, you weren’t, you’re a science experiment!

    (Tina, Tom and Tony laugh at the Quack family)

    Albert   Why are you being so horrible? Leave Andre alone!

    Tina   Weirdo!

    Tom   You’re so ugly!

    Tony   You’re not a duck!

    (Tina, Tom and Tony surround Andre chanting, ‘You’re not a duck!’)

    Aggie   Stop it! Why are you doing that?

    Albert   You’d better stop or I’ll hit you!

    (Mr Feathers enters)

    Mr Feathers   Excuse me? I don’t think you’ll be hitting anyone, Albert. Go straight to the head teacher’s office, now!

    Albert   But, Sir . . .

    Mr Feathers   Now! I’m fed up with you always losing your temper at school.

    (Mr Feathers and Albert leave)

    Tina (to Young Andre)   Now see what you’ve done! You got Albert in trouble.

    Young Andre   No I didn’t, he was trying to protect me!

    Tom   You wouldn’t need protecting if you were normal!

    (Tina, Tom and Tony go off, leaving Andre and Aggie on stage)

    Aggie   Don’t worry, Andre, Albert will explain everything.

    Young Andre   No, Tom’s right, Aggie. Albert would never get into trouble if he wasn’t sticking up for me all the time.

    Aggie   Albert does that because he cares about you.

    Young Andre   Maybe it would be better if I went away and then Albert wouldn’t have to defend me all the time.

    (Young Andre leaves. Aggie follows him)

    Andre (to Presenter)   This carried on for a few years until I was old enough to fly the nest.

    Scene Four: Off on an adventure

    (Angela, Aggie, Albert and Young Andre enter – Young Andre is carrying a suitcase)

    Angela   Now are you sure you’ll be all right?

    Young Andre   Yes, Mum, I’ll write to you all the time to let you know how I’m getting on. Please don’t worry, Mum.

    Albert   Take care, Andre. I wish I was coming with you.

    Young Andre   You look after Mum. There’s a job opening at the Pond, why don’t you go for that?

    Albert   You’re always helping me out. Take care, brother.

    Aggie   Be safe, Andre.

    (Young Andre goes off on his own)

    Andre   And so that was me for a few months, just wandering. I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I knew I belonged somewhere but I was so unsure and animals I met didn’t help.

    (Young Andre walks on and meets Sally the Squirrel)

    Sally   Oi, watch where you’re going, you nearly squashed a nut there!

    Young Andre   I really am sorry.

    Sally   Who are you, anyway?

    Young Andre   Well, I’m Andre Quack.

    Sally   Quack? That’s a weird surname!

    Young Andre   Why is it weird? I’m a duck, that’s a normal surname for a duck!

    Sally   You’re not a duck, you silly young thing!

    (Sally begins to walk off, shaking her head)

    Young Andre   But if I’m not a duck, what am I? Miss? Excuse me? What am I?!

    (Young Andre continues to walk around the stage looking miserable)

    Andre   That is, until I met Ronald. He changed my life for ever.

    (Ronald the Rabbit enters. He’s a sharp-looking talent scout)

    Ronald (on his mobile)   OK, well the two of them are signed up. You did get them to sign the contracts, yes? Good, now I . . . (he sees Young Andre) let me call you back. Excuse me, young man, what’s your name?

    Young Andre   Andre. What’s yours?

    Ronald   I, my young friend, am Ronald, agent to the pop stars of tomorrow, and I have to ask you, can you sing?

    Young Andre   Well, a bit, but I’ve never really tried. Mother always said I was quite musical, different from my brother and sister, who were useless!

    Ronald   Andre, Andre, Andre (he puts his arm around Young Andre) for many months I’ve been searching field and forest for a third member of my band and I think that you might be the final addition.

    Young Andre   Final addition? For what?

    Ronald   The Swans! You’ll be huge!

    Young Andre   Swans? But I’m not a swan, I’m a duck!

    Ronald   Not a swan? You’ve got to be joking? Have you seen yourself lately? (Gets out a mirror) Have a look. I can’t see a duck!

    Young Andre   Oh! I’m not a duck! I am a swan. All this time I thought I was just an ugly duck but really I’m . . .

    Ronald   A gorgeous swan! Now are you in, Andre? I need you to come to the studio and sing for me! (Ronald leads Young Andre off)

    Presenter  So you realized you were a swan when your agent told you! That must have been a great experience.

    Andre   Life changing! And when I went home . . .

    Scene Five: Going home

    (Tina, Tom, Tony, Angela, Aggie, Albert, Gemma and Gertrude all enter)

    Gemma   Oh, I can’t wait to see The Swans. I’ve got both their singles.

    Geraldine   And they’re such beautiful looking young Swans.

    Angela   I wish your brother was here. He’d love to meet The Swans.

    Albert   Oh, Andre’s OK. He wrote saying he was doing well, didn’t he?

    Aggie   And he did say he was going to see us soon. Maybe he’s planning to come down in a few weeks.

    Tina   Here they come!

    (All animals start clapping and cheering as Young Andre and Swans 1 and 2 enter)

    Young Andre   Thank you! It’s really great to be here in Duckpond River.

    (More applause)

    Young Andre   It’s hard to believe that only a year ago, I myself lived in this small village.

    Tom   He lived here?

    Tony   There’s no swan families in Duckpond River, is there?

    Young Andre   When I lived here, I always felt different and it took a while for me to realize that actually I was different from all of you. I was a different species of bird!

    Angela   Andre?

    Young Andre   Yes, Mum, it’s me!

    (Confusion from the crowd)

    Young Andre (to Tom, Tony and Tina)   You three always used to pick on me for being different. Well, being different has meant that I’m now part of one of the most successful pop groups of all time.

    Albert   Yeah, so who’s laughing now?

    Aggie   Yeah, who’s weird now?

    (Albert, Aggie and Angela run and hug Young Andre)

    Angela   Oh, Andre, you’re a swan, a beautiful swan! I always knew you were beautiful.

    Young Andre   I know, Mum, you accepted me for who I was and loved me regardless.

    Presenter (moving centre stage with Andre and The Swans)   So what happened after that?

    Andre   Well, I’ve now bought a new house for my family. And Tom, Tina and Tony have tried on many occasions to apologise.

    Swan 1   But we still won’t give them backstage passes to our gigs!

    Swan 2   I think Andre’s story shows that it doesn’t matter what you look like, you should all be treated the same. Bullying is just something that animals do when they feel weak themselves.

    Andre   At the end of the day, there’s no point to bullying. We’re all important and it doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s inside that counts.

    Presenter   I think that’s a motto we can all live by. Thank you, The Swans, and especially to you, Andre, for being so inspirational.

Time for reflection

Dear Lord,
help us to love everyone for who they are.
Help us to treat people
as we would like to be treated ourselves,
and to know that you love us all for who we are.


‘All things bright and beautiful’ (Come and Praise, 3)

Publication date: June 2011   (Vol.13 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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