First the Egg
First the Egg
Roaring Brook Press, Hardcover, 9781596432727, 32pp.
Publication Date: September 4, 2007
WHICH CAME FIRST? The chicken or the egg? Simple die-cuts magically present transformation-- from seed to flower, tadpole to frog, caterpillar to butterfly.
The acclaimed author of Black? White Day? Night and Lemons Are Not Red gives an entirely fresh and memorable presentation to the concepts of transformation and creatiity. Seed becomes flower, paint becomes picture, word becomes story--and the commonplace becomes extraordinary as children look through and turn the pages of this novel and winning book.
First the Egg by bestselling author and illustrator Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book and a 2007 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year. This title has Common Core connections.
Publishers Weekly In another nimble page-turner, Seeger (Black? White! Day? Night!) toys with die-cuts and strategically paired words. She introduces a chicken-or-egg dilemma on her book’s cover, picturing a plump white egg in a golden-brown nest. Remove the die-cut dust jacket, and a hen appears on the glossy inner cover. The eggshell, thickly brushed in bluish-white and cream, also serves as the chicken’s feathers. This “first/then” pattern is repeated (“First the egg/ then the chicken./ First the tadpole/ then the frog”), with a die-cut on every other page. By flipping a page, readers see the cutout in two contexts. For instance, when an ovoid shape is superimposed on a white ground, it’s an egg; on a yolk-yellow ground, it’s the body of a baby chick. Seeger lines up the recto and verso of every sheet, maintaining a casual mood with generous swabs of grassy greens, sky blues and oxide yellows on canvas. Given the exuberant imagery, the occasional cutout (like the fingernail-size seed of a blowsy peony-pink flower) looks none too impressive. But if minuscule die-cuts seem barely worth the trouble, they do imply the potential in humble sources. Seeger’s clever conclusion brings all the elements together in an outdoor scene that returns readers to the opening: “First the paint/ then the picture… / First the chicken/ then the egg!” Ages 2-6. (Sept.) Kirkus Reviews Starred Review A deceptively simple, decidedly playful sequence of statements invites readers to ponder, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? Carefully choreographed page turns and die-cuts focus on the process of change and becoming, so “First” sits alone on a yellow background, facing “the EGG”—an egg-shaped die-cut revealing a white egg against an orange-and-brown background. Turn the page, and “then” appears, the egg-shaped die-cut now forming the yellow body of a chick emerging from the shell, facing “the CHICKEN”—the white hen whose body gave color to the previous spread’s egg. Tadpole and frog, seed and flower, caterpillar and butterfly all receive the same treatment, then word and story, paint and picture bring all the disparate elements together, nature being the catalyst for art. Seeger’s vibrant, textured oil-on-canvas illustrations contain a wealth of subtlety, allowing the die-cuts to reveal cunning surprises with each turn of the page. Children and adults alike will delight in flipping the sturdy pages back and forth to recreate the transformations over and over again. Another perfectly pitched triumph from an emerging master of the concept book. (Picture book. 2-6) New York Times Children’s Books Bestseller List at #9