First the Egg


Written and Illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Roaring Brook Press, 2007

Awards: Caldecott Honor

First the egg, then the chicken.

The plot in a nutshell:  A book about the sequence of things and how they transform

The egg becomes a chicken. A tadpole changes into a frog. A seed grows into a beautiful flower. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly. You start with one word to create a whole story and paint is a starting ingredient for a painted picture. When you start with a chicken, then you end up with an egg.

Author/illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger came up with the concept for this very simple book when she was writing in a journal where a hole cut in one page revealed a flower she had drawn on the page behind it. As this book moves through the changes of each transformation, there is a shape cut out that shows just a part of the new version on the next page. A great example is when the OR from ‘word’ becomes the ‘OR’ in ‘story,’ showing the clear connection between the two.

I think I painted that picture once, but my chicken didn't look as much like a chicken.

I think I painted that picture once, but my chicken didn’t look as much like a chicken.

The artwork is paint on canvas and the image is so realistic that you’re almost surprised that you can’t feel the brushstroke texture when you run your finger over the page. This book would likely be a good choice for younger kids, who may enjoy predicting the picture on the next page and will like the bold colors and easy to follow pictures. I particularly like that it begins with the egg, as produced by a chicken and ends with a chicken, as produced by an egg. Might as well get your kids started young in pondering that age old conundrum.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that everything starts smaller and simpler than it has the potential to become.


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