I downloaded this book for free--and after perusing it promptly deleted it. No way would this work for my 3 year old granddaughter. Here's why:
1. This is 99% text, and the few illustrations that do exist are miniscule. It's a joke to call this "illustrated."
2. The text is often boring and way over the head of a young child: "It would be very sad, were I to relate all the misery and privations the poor little duckling endured during the hard winter..." Or how about this: "He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better the pleasure and happiness around him..."
3. There is also too much emphasis on beating and killing. How about this passage: "I will fly to those royal birds," he exclaimed, "and they will kill me, because I am so ugly, and dare to approach them. It does not matter. Better to be killed by them than pecked by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed by the maiden who feeds the poultry, or starved with hunger in the winter."
4. While this may be the original story, I remember as a child reading a version devoid of all the gore in this story, and certainly never read anything like: "Kill me, said the poor bird; and he bent his head down to the surface of the water and awaited death."
Bottom line: This is absolutely NOT suitable for young children (ages 2-5). In fact I don't think it works for older children either because while the text may not frighten them, I think it will bore them.
I just ordered Children's Classic Fairy Tales: The Ugly Duckling, which I was able to preview part of before ordering. The preview had nice illustrations and text appropriate for my granddaughter.