Review of Egg

henkes_eggstar2 Egg
by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author
Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp.
1/17    978-0-06-240872-3    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-240873-0    $18.89    g

In the latest offering from modern picture-book master Henkes (Waiting, rev. 9/15), we are introduced to four different eggs, each a different pastel color and each occupying its own separate quadrant of the page: “egg / egg / egg / egg.” The drama begins on the facing page — “crack / crack / crack / egg” — when three little chicks hatch, and the fourth egg…waits. The three hatchlings, concerned, gather ’round the egg and instigate a furious pecking campaign. Finally: “crack,” then “surprise!” What hatches from the fourth egg is not another chick. Will the other three reject the foundling (“alone / sad / lonely / miserable”), or embrace it? Henkes once again taps into the deepest emotions of preschoolers with the simplest of stories. This one contains a surfeit of humor despite the scarcity of text (there are just fifteen distinct words, though some repeat). Henkes manages to imbue his characters with heaps of personality and expression using just the slant of an eyebrow or the curve of a mouth (I particularly love team-leader pink chick assessing the unhatched egg, wings akimbo in concentration). Pacing is, as ever, perfect, taking full advantage of the switch from the early, snappy paneled pages to a series of wordless spreads that tell the story of the budding four-way friendship. And the ending is as trippy and open-ended as that of any in our established post-modernist picture books — it’s just preschool-sized.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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