Bursting with a sense of exhilarating discovery, natural renewal, and out-and-out exuberance, these lively tales about eggs and chicks are just right for spring. Included in this carefully chosen dozen are engaging fact-based offerings, humorously offbeat adventures, and stories about fledglings eager to take their first daring steps into the world.
Busy-Busy Little Chick. By Janice N. Harrington. illus. by Brian Pinkney. Farrar. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-374-34746-8.
PreS-Gr 2–Mama Nsoso’s hatchlings are “chilly-cold,” so she promises to build a cozy new ilombe (house) with grass roof, mud walls, and leafy nest inside. However, when morning comes, mother and babes opt to snack on “cricky-cracky crickets” or “picky-pecky corn” rather than complete their task. That is except for hardworking Little Chick, who ignores the tasty tidbits, gathers the necessary materials, and constructs a just-right home for his family. Based on a fable from Central Africa’s Nkundo people, this enchanting tale of perseverance pairs a tongue-pleasing text with swirling color-splashed paintings.
Five Little Chicks. By Nancy Tafuri. illus. by Nancy Tafuri. S. & S. 2006. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-689-87342-3; BD $7.99. ISBN 9781442407220.
PreS-Gr 1–Under their mother’s watchful eye, five fluffy yellow darlings depart the nest to search out something to eat. Though mouthwatering possibilities abound (“a fat, wiggly worm” or “fuzzy butterfly”), wise Mama Hen leads her hungry brood to the corn patch, where they can peck and scratch all day long. Bright and breezy illustrations and toe-tapping rhymes make this tale a treat for storytime, lap-shares, and finger-counting fun.
Foxy and Egg. By Alex T. Smith. illus. by Alex T. Smith. Holiday House. 2011. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2330-9.
PreS-Gr 3–Foxy DuBois’s taste runs to all things poultry, as evidenced by the chicken- and egg-inspired paintings and bric-a-brac that decorate her home. When a speckled egg arrives at her door, she hatches a cunning plan—fatten up her guest with a fancy dinner, offer him accommodations, and enjoy a gourmet breakfast in the morning. At sunrise, the famished fox can’t wait to dig in, but her scheme goes awry when the now-enormous Egg cracks open to reveal a very large—and very hungry—surprise. This entertaining romp sizzles with tongue-in-cheek text, slick photo-collage artwork, and humorously egg-centric details.
Guess What Is Growing Inside This Egg. By Mia Posado. illus. by Mia Posado. Lerner/Millbrook. 2007. lib. ed. $15.95. ISBN 978-0-8225-6192-7; ebook $31.93. ISBN 978-0-8225-8782-8. Also available in Spanish.
K-Gr 2–Posado’s engaging guessing-game format blends solid science with sparkling storytelling. Handsome spreads feature a clutch of mysterious eggs along with hint-filled rhyming couplets and helpful visual clues. A turn of the page divulges the occupant(s)—a penguin, alligators, sea turtles, and other oviparous animals—and presents information about the critters and their way of life. Whether depicting soft feathers or scaly snout, the lovely collage artwork blends natural textures and earthy hues. The book ends with a visual comparison of the eggs’ actual sizes and a cutaway glimpse at a developing duckling embryo.
Hatch! By Roxie Munro. illus. by Roxie Munro. Amazon/Two Lions. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5882-1.
K-Gr 5–“Can you guess whose eggs these are?” For nine different types of birds, Munro presents this query along with a close-up look at one or more eggs and a paragraph that hints at the layer’s identity. The next spread names the bird in question, which is majestically portrayed in its natural habitat with other indigenous flora and fauna, and provides more fascinating facts about the species. Rendered with graceful ink lines and muted colors, the detailed artwork is captivating, as is the scope of information that children will glean about the wonders of the avian world.
I Hatched! By Jill Esbaum. illus. by Jen Corace. Dial. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3688-7.
PreS-Gr 1–A killdeer chick explodes out of his egg (“Ta-da!”) and bounds forth to make dazzling discoveries about himself and the very “BIG” world around him. Esbaum’s buoyant rhymes convey a young child’s high-spirited and charmingly self-absorbed viewpoint, and Corace’s paintings provide lovely flower-strewn locales to explore. At sunset, the pint-size plover gets the best surprise of all: a just-hatched sister to whom he confidently crows, “Don’t worry, I know EVERYTHING!” Meanwhile, the funny final illustration shows him stretching his wings and musing, “Hey, wonder what these flappy things are for?”
The Odd Egg. By Emily Gravett. illus. by Emily Gravett. S. & S. 2009. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-6872-6.
PreS-Gr 2–“All the birds had laid an egg. All except for Duck.” So when he finds a gigantic green polka-dotted specimen he is overjoyed. He sits proudly upon it, with feet dangling down, while his avian cohorts express their doubts (“Not pretty”). Soon it’s hatching time (die-cut pages grow gradually wider to depict each egg and its resultant chick, from a tiny-size robin to a tall flamingo). Still Duck waits, patiently knitting away. Finally, his egg cracks open, revealing a giant alligator with snapping jaws. Feathers fly, but Duck is unperturbed (on the back endpaper the scaly babe, now outfitted in hand-knit booties and matching muffler, contentedly follows after “Mama”). Both witty and warmhearted, this story reminds readers that love defies expectations.
Ollie. By Olivier Dunrea. illus. by Olivier Dunrea. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-544-14703-4; pap. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-544-14671-6; ebook $3.99. ISBN 9780547740508.
PreS-Gr 1–Gossie and Gertie have tried everything to get their brother to hatch, but the stubborn Ollie sits tight in his egg (“I won’t come out!”). However, when the fed up goslings finally lose interest (“Don’t come out”), Ollie promptly emerges (“I’m out!”). The simple, repetitive text and sunny artwork are infused with gentle humor and a spot-on understanding of sibling dynamics. Originally published in 2003, this endearing offering has been reissued in easy-reader format and includes a free audio download.
Out of the Egg. By Tina Matthews. illus. by Tina Matthews. Houghton Harcourt. 2007. Tr $12.95. ISBN 978-0618-73741-3.
K-Gr 3–Striking black ink woodcuts with minimal colors provide a 21st-century backdrop for this next-gen version of Little Red Hen. As the protagonist plants and nurtures a seed, Fat Cat, Dirty Rat, and Greedy Pig ignore her requests for assistance, too busy watching TV or cruising in an exhaust-spewing convertible. Years pass, the tree thrives, and the hen lays an egg that hatches into a bright-eyed baby bird. When the offspring of the lazy threesome ask to play near the tree, Red Hen refuses, but her independent-minded chick steps in to break the cycle of mean, welcoming her new friends and sending them home with smiles and seeds of their own. Empowering themes—ethical and environmental—make this spare-yet-sagacious tale ripe for discussion.
Six Little Chicks. By Jez Alborough. illus. by Jez Alborough. Barron’s. 2013 (reprint). pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781438001814.
PreS-Gr 1–A mother hen sends her five tots out to play while she waits for her last egg to hatch. Hearing that the “hairy, scary big bad fox” is on the loose, she herds her children back into the chicken hut to keep them safe while she investigates. When the toothy predator pushes his head through a hole in the wall, a quick-thinking hatchling comes up with a clever way to shut down the fox’s snapping jaws. Mother and babes are happily reunited in time to welcome chick number six (and provide one last counting opportunity to readers). Bouncy rhyming couplets, effervescent artwork, and a touch of spine-tingling suspense add up to a crowd-pleasing adventure.
Ten Eggs in a Nest. By Marilyn Sadler. illus. by Michael Fleming. Random. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 978-0-449-81082-8; lib. ed. $13.99. ISBN 978-0-375-97151-8; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-375-98139-5.
PreS-Gr 2–Red Rooster and Gwen the hen are thrilled at the prospect of being parents, and as their eggs slowly begin to hatch—first “ONE beautiful baby chick,” then in groups of TWO, THREE, and FOUR—the proud papa repeatedly rushes to the market to procure a tasty worm for each new addition. A simple text, emphasis on counting and adding, and vibrant artwork packed with visual clues encourage youngsters to practice basic skills while relishing Red’s enthusiasm.
Tillie Lays an Egg. By Terry Golson. illus. by Ben Fink. Scholastic. 2009. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-00537-1.
PreS-Gr 3–Crisp photos and lighthearted text introduce the feathered inhabitants of Little Pond Farm. While six of the hens make use of nesting boxes, Tillie chooses to go her own way, depositing her eggs in a variety of unusual locations—the garden, the farmhouse porch, the laundry room, even on the floor of an antique red pickup truck. Eye-catching tableaux depict Tillie’s destinations and challenge readers to spot her egg amid a colorful clutter of objects and chicken-adorned flea-market treasures. Starring a protagonist with plenty of pluck and personality, this seek-and-find story is worth clucking about.