Tuesday, February 23, 2010

First the Egg

First the Egg  Laura Vaccaro Seeger  book reviewFirst the Egg
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Ages 2-6
Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book

We have a few books with holes in our bookshelf. Their appeal is unmistakable. Known as "die-cut" in today's publishing terminology, as I later found out, these books offer small windows or cut-outs in the pages to add dimensionality and intrigue.

First the Egg is one such book with holes. However, the deceptive simplicity of the book conceals such flair that it impressed me at the first read.

The opening page shows a textured earthy canvas with an egg-shaped cut-out stating, First the egg, which when flipped reveals a plump yellow chick hatching to become a full-grown chicken, accompanied by a simple, then... the chicken.

Similarly we move through canvas after canvas of stark, vivid colors showing bold brush strokes, with distinct cut-outs, revealing a tadpole metamorphosing to a frog, a seed growing into a flowering plant, a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly... until we encounter:

First the word, then the story

The brilliant construction takes a solitary, unassuming word and develops it into the story we are in the middle of reading.

And, continuing the theme, First the paint, then the picture completes the story in pictures that we are absorbing visually.

The clever recursive twist in the end takes us a full circle leaving us with First the chicken, who walks towards a nest purposefully, ending with, then the egg, showing a large egg about to hatch.

Having a 4¾ year old and a 1¾ year old, I am always thrilled to find books that appeal to both of them, even if not equally. This book is one of the few among our collection which has both of them asking for repeat-reads. The easy, short sentences and bold images happens to be the appeal for the older one, while the cut-outs, the animals, the way one leads to the other while traveling through the pages seems to be the attraction for the younger one, as far as I can gather.

The kids may not get the nuances that a seasoned reader might come to appreciate in this book, and completing the circle of life might confuse rather than clarify the young minds; but, whatever they see in this book, the kids seem to like a lot.

And much like Alphabeasts, this has become one of my favorites. The bold vibrant canvas with deep brush strokes makes the images pop out, giving it a 3D quality, at times tempting me to grab that brush and even out that blob of paint on the page, while the simple text and placement of cut-outs makes me wonder at the creative process behind this seemingly easy presentation.

Incidentally, Lemons Are Not Red and Hidden Alphabet by Laura Seeger are also much enjoyed in our household.


Tharini said...

Wow. I love the concept. Its like you said, deceptively simple. Would be nice to experience it...

Vibha said...

Your review brought back some interesting memories of the time when I used to spend long hours in 'Michaels' looking at various die-cuts and appreciating the detailing in some.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pick and lovely review Sheela ! I really like the theme and want to pick up the book for the kids.


Anusha said...

we loved this book, and your lucid review says exactly why. it appealed to both ages in our house too. both age groups, I should say ;)
couldn't help but smile at "grab that brush and even out that blob of paint..."!
thanks for the other titles - have to check them out.

sandhya said...

The book seems lovely. Timely review, with the 106th birth anniversary of Dr Seuss on 2nd March.

Choxbox said...

Sounds cool :)

Meera Sriram said...

Sheela, Thanks for introducing Laura Seeger and the die-cut terminology. I find books with 3D quality entertaining myself:)
Sounds like a fantastic book.

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