Which came first--the chicken or the egg? Finally, someone is here to tell us. But the answer later.
"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.