Egg begins, as you might expect, with four brightly colored eggs. Three eggs hatch, and three brightly colored baby birds emerge: pink, yellow and blue. The fourth egg, of a reptilian-green shade, is in less of a hurry. The eager baby birds help their sibling along, their beaks eventually breaking the shell. But what emerges is slightly less than feathery and fluttery . . . and slightly more green and crawly. We begin with four eggs; will we end with four friends?
Deceptively simple (a trademark of Kevin Henkes), Egg proves entertaining and useful on multiple levels. Henkes’ characters stand out against a plain-white background, which focuses attention on their expressions. A talented illustrator, Henkes is able to convey facial expression and emotions with very few lines. Egg has minimal text, which allows readers to ad-lib, while repetition of simple words helps new readers practice sight words and phonics. Counting and colors will amuse the tiniest readers, while one page provides a very early look at synonyms. And, as with many of Henkes’ books, there is an underlying theme—albeit very simple—of acceptance and friendship and bravery.
Henkes is the recipient of both the Caldecott and Newbery Honors, with the rare ability to write across age groups. His longer stories (Chrysanthemum, Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse) are classics for young readers. His calm, boldly illustrated stories like Kitten’s First Full Moon are perfect bedtime tales.
Whether you read every word and name the birds, look at the pictures or make up your own tale, Henkes’ Egg is a delightful addition to any bookshelf.