Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. First the Egg. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook Press, 2007. 32 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1596432727
What’s the story?
This book presents the concepts of how first there is an egg and that egg becomes a chicken. Then the story depicts other “firsts” that occur in nature: first tadpole, then frog; first seed, then flower, etc. Then a different process emerges: first there is a word and then there is a story and then there is an artist who paints the story and a writer who tells the story which leads back to the egg which is now the second part because first there is a chicken and then there is an egg.
This winner of the 2008 Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor and the 2008 Caldecott Honor has a fairly simple story that begins with a particular of which came first the chicken or the egg? There are a variety of cut-outs that by turning the page reveals a connection. The egg leads to a picture of a chick; a tadpole cut-out leads to a frog, and other progressions within nature are depicted. The illustrations are a rich palette of colors that appear to be painted on canvas. The most ingenious aspect of the story comes near the end when the reader discovers the story they are currently reading is part of the story they are reading. Children may be too young to appreciate this clever bit of metafiction, but it may plant the seed in their minds about the complexities of writing stories as well as reading them. An illustration at the end of the story incorporates the animals and objects mentioned before. Seeger proves herself to be a masterful artist and storyteller using the picture book form. Just when the reader thinks the book verifies that the egg came first, the story ends with the chicken laying the egg.
Other Awards and RecognitionNew York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007 New York Times Best Seller Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2007 Oppenheim Platinum Award, 2008 ALA Notable Book, 2008