Sunday, October 4, 2009

Leo Lionni's An Extraordinary Egg

An Extraordinary Egg
Written and Illustrated by Leo Lionni
Recommended Ages: 4-8

My sixteen-year old daughter was straightening up her bookcase this morning and came across An Extraordinary Egg. She asked me if I had blogged about it yet. She remembers that it was one of her favorites. I re-read the story with a smile on my face, as I revisited this lovely tale.

In An Extraordinary Egg we are introduced to three frogs, Marilyn, August and Jessica. As you might expect, one of the frogs (Jessica) is a little different from the other two. She's a wanderer, always exploring and finding treasures that she declares are "extraordinary." Unfortunately, Marilyn and August are never too impressed with her findings.

However, one day she brings home a beautiful, white stone almost as big as she is. This time Marilyn and August are impressed. Marilyn ("who knew everything about everything") declares it is a chicken egg. Jessica, who has never even heard of chickens, asks her how she knew. Marilyn replies, "There are some things you just know."

A few days later, the frogs hear a noise coming out of the egg and out walks a long, scaly, green creature. Marilyn proclaims, "See! I was right it is a chicken."

The beautiful thing about the book at this point is that your child will see that this creature is no chicken, but is in fact an alligator. But Lionni does a delightful job as he continues on with the story, calling the alligator "chicken." The "chicken" and the frogs become fast friends and there's a sweet reunion at the end between the baby alligator and her mama, where the mama greets her baby by calling her "my sweet little alligator." The three frogs think that is quite a funny thing to call the chicken an alligator.

An Extraordinary Egg is great fun to read aloud. It's humorous and kids get a kick out of the mistaken identities. They love it that THEY know what's going on, even if the frogs don't. Ultimately, it's a story about friendship between likely and unlikely sources.

I also want to say a word about the illustrations. They are a combination of watercolors, crayons and collage, and quite extraordinary in their own right. Lionni has a definite signature-style that's imaginative and eye-pleasing, which is evident in his many books (over 40).

BookNosher Tidbit: Leo Lionni was a four-time Caldecott Medal winner for Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse, Frederick, Swimmy and Inch by Inch. All four are wonderful books and definitely worth checking out.

BookNosher Activity: Kids will be impressed that both chickens and alligators come from eggs, and will likely want to know about other egg-layers. Here are a few other picture books that you could have on hand for a fun lesson about oviparous animals: Chickens Aren't The Only Ones by Ruth Heller; Guess What is Growing Inside This Egg by Mia Posada and An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston.


Lubna said...

Always a delight to visit here.

carminette said...

another crocodile/chicken egg stories to check out is the fabulous "mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodle" by Liberian storyteller (and now Seattleite) Won-ldy Paye. The illustrations are by Seattle illustrator Julie Paschkis. This is a story time favorite for me.

Robin Gaphni said...

Thanks for the book recommendation, Carmine. I love Julie Paschkis's work, and look forward to checking out "Mrs Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile."

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