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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Egg by Caldecott and Newbery winner Kevin Henkes (Kitten's First Full Moon) is a sweet book about baby birds and a crocodile hatching from eggs. When the lone crocodile is lonely, the birds fly back and befriend him. Underlying themes stress the rewards of patiently waiting, empathy, and reaching out to make friends. Perfect for the youngest readers, the book evokes powerful and universal emotions with very little text, repeating words such as "egg," "crack," "surprise," "good-bye," "waiting," and "listen." The pastel Easter egg art is as soft as its message, and there's an unexpected surprise at the end.
What's the story?
EGG begins with four eggs of different colors. When cracks appear in three, baby birds emerge and take off in flight. But one egg is still intact. We watch the egg, "waiting," and the three birds return to "listen." They peck at the egg, it cracks, and out pops a crocodile: "Surprise!" The birds fly off, but the crocodile is "alone, sad, lonely, miserable," so the birds return and perch on its back as "friends." The friends watch the sun, which morphs into an egg shape, and a bird of corresponding color takes flight.
Is it any good?
This masterful book with pastel eggs and matching baby birds -- and a surprise baby crocodile -- will appeal to very young readers who will clamor to reread it. Egg showcases what author/illustrator Kevin Henkes does best: create a simple book that's also powerful and meaningful. Kids will have fun chiming in with isolated, repeated words such as "waiting" and "peck-peck-peck" and will identify with the young animals looking for friendship and fun. The end, in which a peach-colored sun evolves into an egg and a matching-colored bird is seen flying off, is odd enough to tickle young brains and stoke the fires of wonder.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the surprises in Egg. Did you expect a crocodile to come out of the unhatched egg? What other animals can you think of that hatch from eggs?
What's the message in the story about friendship? How is the message communicated in the words? In the art?
What happens with the sun at the end of the story? What do you think the word "maybe" on the last page means?
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