First the Egg Hardcover – Sep 4 2007
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“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.)” ―Publishers Weekly
“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)” ―Kirkus Reviews Starred Review
About the Author
Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a New York Times best-selling author and illustrator and the recipient of a 2008 Caldecott Honor, Theodor Seuss Geisel Honors for both 2009 and 2008, a 2007 New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award, and the 2007 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book. Her books include The Hidden Alphabet and Dog and Bear, among others.
Raised on Long Island, New York, Seeger began drawing at two years old and never stopped. For as long as she remembers, she wanted to write picture books. She received her B.F.A. degree at the School of Fine Art and Design at SUNY Purchase in Westchester, New York, and then moved to Manhattan, where she worked as an animator, artist, and editor in the network television business.
Seeger lives in Rockville Centre, Long Island, with her husband, Chris, their two sons, Drew and Dylan, and their dog, Copper. She loves painting, surfing, tennis, playing the piano, and spending time with her family. She takes long walks at the beach every day and paints in her studio every night.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"First the egg," written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, is a Caldecott honor winner for 2008 and an honor book for the Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Award. What makes it special? Both the artwork and the story, or actually, in this case, concepts that lead from one transformation to the next. Two previous clever winners are Flotsam (Caldecott Medal Book) by David Wiesner and Black and White, an earlier Caldecott by David Macauley.
I took this book from a display in our bi-annual Book Fair. I read it in just one minute. Then reread it. And reread it. Every time I pick up this seemingly simple book, I see something else I missed. Even the covers are part of the story. This book is more than clever--it is brilliant, as in illuminating.
Listen, here is the story. Get comfortable and let me read it to you:
First the EGG
then the CHICKEN
First the TADPOLE
then the FROG
First the SEED
then the FLOWER
First the CATERPILLAR
then the BUTTERFLY
First the WORD
then the STORY
First the PAINT
then the PICTURE, First the CHICKEN
then the EGG!
Well? Exactly! Without the bold colors and almost in-your-face images in the background, the words are fine, but...? A Caldecott Award is given to the most distinguished picture book of the year. Please look at the cover image with this review. That gives an idea of the power of the colors and paint technique, which is impasto on canvas, providing two layers of texture. That is what this book has--texture: layers of texture in the art and the concepts.
Art? A creative, bold enterprise that can make the chicken or the egg first. Think it, do it. Create. That is exactly what Ms Seeger did. She created a bold, creative way to examine this age-old riddle.
"First the egg" is highly recommended, not only for children, who will adore it, but also for adults, who will be reminded of the grandeur of creation in all its many forms. Great children's books belong in the collection of adults as well as in children's.