About the Holiday
What an amazing thing the egg is! This month we celebrate its role in feeding families the world over. From ancient times people have relied on the protein and other nutrients in this compact package to stay healthy at an affordable price or from their own farm. There are so many recipes that feature the delicate flavor of eggs. This month why not crack a few eggs and try a new taste sensation, and, of course, enjoy those old favorites as well!
By Kevin Henkes
As this sophisticated paneled picture book opens, four eggs await their fate. One is pink, one is yellow, one is blue, and one is green. On the next page three of the eggs begin their journey with a crack, crack, crack; but the last one? The green one? It remains a smooth egg. With a “surprise!” a pink baby bird hatches from the pink egg. The yellow egg breaks open and a yellow bird chirps “surprise.” When the blue egg breaks a blue baby bird pops free with one more “surprise!” But the last egg? The green one? It remains an intact egg.
The pink bird strides away from her former home with a quick “good-bye.” The yellow bird takes to the sky with a cheery “good-bye.” And the blue bird skips off with a joyful cheep “good-bye.” But the last egg? The green one? It still remains a silent egg. All alone now, the green egg waits. It waits and waits and waits through a full sixteen-day calendar.
Finished with her walk, the pink bird is back to check on the green egg. She hails the yellow chick, who is also returning, and calls out to the blue bird, who runs in to see what’s up. They discuss this anomalous egg and come up with a plan. They lay their ears against the shell and “listen.” Then they begin tapping away. “Peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck.” This egg has one tough exterior! They peck and peck until, finally, they hear a “crack.”
The egg splits to reveal an eye-popping “surprise!” The last egg? The green one? It doesn’t hold a green chick, but a green crocodile! The birds fly away from the dangerous snout. Now the baby croc is “alone” and “sad.” The little birds see how “lonely” the crocodile is and slowly, one-by-one they return. They fly closer and closer until they are all sitting atop the crocodile’s back.
The crocodile takes his new friends on a ride down to the water’s edge. He wades in and follows where the pink bird directs. Then these new friends sit quietly and watch the sun set. The orange sun sinks lower and lower toward the horizon, changing shape and beginning the journey all over again.
Kevin Henkes’ adorable read-aloud is as complex as the egg itself. On the surface it is a comforting and touching tale of friendship, but crack it open and the story takes on deeper meaning. Themes of patience, working together, diversity, acceptance, and even ideas of expectations and preconceived danger are waiting to be explored during repeat readings. The graphic-novel nature of the illustrations allow readers to form bonds with the four eggs as a ready-made group, increasing kids’ curiosity and interest in that fourth egg that just won’t hatch.
Pastel colors differentiate each bird as do simple gestures that little ones will recognize as personality traits. In the final pages, the lines separating the panels disappear as the four friends gather to watch the sun go down, and their life together begins.
Ages 3 – 8
Greenwillow Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-0062408723
You can meet Kevin Henkes, learn about his books, and discover resources, videos, and more on his website.
National Egg Month Activity
Egg Carton Chickens and a Basket Full of Games
With twelve little chickens you can come up with lots of games to play! This fun craft and game activity is eggs-actly what you need to start hatching some real fun!
- Cardboard egg carton
- White craft paint
- Markers: red, yellow, black for the face; any colors you’d like for wings and eggs
- Paint brush
- Construction or craft paper in white and a color of your choice
- Cut the notched flap off the egg carton and set aside
- Cut the top off the egg carton
- Cut apart all the egg cups and trim slightly so they sit flat
- Paint the egg cups with the white paint, let dry
- Add the face, comb and wings to the chicken with the markers. Make six chickens with one color wings and six chickens with another color wings.
- From the egg carton flap cut thirteen small egg-shaped playing pieces
- With the markers, decorate twelve of the eggs in pairs—each egg in the pair with the same design
- Color one egg yellow and add a beak, eyes, and wings to make it a chick
Games to Play
Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players)
- On a 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper draw a regular tic-tac-toe board or make it fancy – like the picket fence-inspired board in the picture
- To make the fence-inspired board on a colored background, cut 2 9-inch-long x 3/4-inch wide strips of white paper, cutting a pointed tip at one or both ends. Cut 2 white 8-inch x 3/4-inch strips of paper with a pointed tip at one or both ends. Glue the strips to the background.
- Each player chooses a set of chickens with the same colored wings
- Play the game as you usually do
Find the Matching Eggs (2 or more players)
- Have one player hide one egg under each chicken
- Shuffle the eggs around and form them into three lines of 4 chickens each
- Another player lifts one chicken at a time to find matching eggs. If the eggs don’t match, put both chickens back and start again
Where’s the Chick?
- Use as many chickens and eggs as you want (fewer for younger children, more for older)
- One player hides the chick under one of the chickens and eggs under the others.
- Another player has three chances to find the chick
You can also design your own games for your adorable chickens to play! With more chickens you can even make a checkers set or replicate another of your favorite board games!
Picture Book Review