First the Egg
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First the Egg

4.2 4
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
     
 

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WHICH CAME FIRST? The chicken or the egg? Simple die-cuts magically present transformation-- from seed to flower, tadpole to frog, caterpillar to butterfly.

The acclaimed author of Black? White! Day? Night! and Lemons Are Not Red gives an entirely fresh and memorable presentation to the concepts of transformation and creatiity. Seed becomes flower,

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Overview

WHICH CAME FIRST? The chicken or the egg? Simple die-cuts magically present transformation-- from seed to flower, tadpole to frog, caterpillar to butterfly.

The acclaimed author of Black? White! Day? Night! and Lemons Are Not Red gives an entirely fresh and memorable presentation to the concepts of transformation and creatiity. Seed becomes flower, paint becomes picture, word becomes story--and the commonplace becomes extraordinary as children look through and turn the pages of this novel and winning book.

First the Egg is a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book and a 2007 New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly

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.)

Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

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)

New York Times Children’s Books Bestseller List at #9

Sara London
The playground of perception seems to be Seeger's most natural arena. Her latest feat of ingenuity, First the Egg, is deceptively simple: It opens with an egg cutout, which, with a page turn, becomes a plump yellow chick; tadpole morphs into frog; seed grows into flower. But Seeger adds a metafictional twist: "word" segues into a handwritten draft of the story we're in the process of reading. A daub of pigment similarly evolves into a painted landscape incorporating chicken, frog and flower. Seeger's final pages bring us full circle: the chicken returns to its nest and lays "the egg!"…First the Egg arrives as an eye-catching reminder that "making it new" is always possible and that learning can be made sheer delight.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
From the die-cut in the jacket with the title incomplete to the alternate illustration peeking through from the cover, this introduction to basic biology dares to be different. The words are very few; the lesson clear. Every other double page has a cut-out clue to the next. “First the EGG,” with the egg-shaped die-cut showing the egg, goes on to the next double page, “then the CHICKEN.” The die-cut has become the body of a hatching chick across the gutter from the full-grown chicken. “First the TADPOLE” moves on to “then the FROG,” with the cut-out becoming part of the evolving tadpole. The seed becomes the flower, the caterpillar the butterfly, with the chrysalis shown in between. The word becomes the story; the paint the picture. Then we return to the chicken and “the EGG!” about to crack open and start the cycle again. Almost crudely painted, richly textured pictures of the objects are set in unadorned spaces of varied colors. Large letters are placed to enhance the design of each spread, and a lesson in biology is strikingly taught. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—Based on the Caldecott and Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor book (Roaring Brook Press, 2007), this short film is as charming as its inspiration. Laura Vaccaro Seeger's tale about transformations, both natural and creative, comes to life through the magic of animation and irresistible sound effects; an egg hatching, a tadpole swimming in a pond, and a pencil writing on paper are almost as appealing to the senses as the chunky, saturated art. While the DVD format sacrifices the cutout effect of the book, the animated growth/transformations are equally fascinating and satisfying. In lieu of turning the page, thick squishy brushstrokes cover previous frames as chicken gives way to tadpole, frog to seed, flower to caterpillar, butterfly to page of words, story to tube of paint and, finally full circle, picture back to chicken. Gentle background music featuring guitar adds to the effect. So which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Viewers can decide and then write their own "First…then…" pairings. Subtitles are optional, and there is an interview with the author/illustrator. While learning about the genesis of the book and Seeger's career is fascinating, this feature is more suited for teachers and older students. Still, this little gem is the perfect introduction to a life cycle unit. Pair it with Simms Taback's Joseph Had a Little Overcoat (Weston Woods, 2001), another creative transformation tale.—Barbara Auerbach, P.S. 217, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
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)
Children's Literature - Tiffany Torbeck
This gentle concept book is brought fully to life as a read along book plus CD. The story takes readers through various transformations from egg to chicken, seed to flower, and word to story, while die cut pages give readers a glimpse ahead to the final stage. The narration is calm, child-like and lulling, as is the music in the background. Most spreads are accompanied by additional sound effects like the crackling of an egg, the splashing of a frog into a pond, and the flapping of butterfly wings. The background music is perfect for getting children settled down for bed and complements the simple nature of this book. The only sticking point of the narration is that sometimes due to the tone used by the narrator, it is as if she is questioning the first statement, then declaring the second. A lovely interview with the author follows the narration and will inspire children to look at the world in new ways and go write about it. This set is recommended for all libraries with a busy book plus CD collection. Reviewer: Tiffany Torbeck
Children's Literature - Laura Backman
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? An egg cutout seems simple to begin with, but it soon becomes a round yellow chick. A tadpole changes into a frog; a seed grows into a flower. Then, the author adds a twist. A word becomes a draft of a story; a splatter of paint evolves into a painted landscape incorporating the chicken, frog, and flower. The voice of a child narrator and simple upbeat music bring production together nicely. This DVD includes an author interview, in which Seeger talks about how she became an artist as a little girl. She explains how the concept book was developed into something more than just a list of words through the addition of animations. She explains that while usually her words come before the pictures, imagery happens simultaneously in her mind. She advises children to look at things as if they are looking at them for the first time and to never take things for granted. This nonfiction DVD introduces science, reading, writing, and art concepts. Young children will enjoy predicting what comes next. Reviewer: Laura Backman

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596432727
Publisher:
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
09/04/2007
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
136,777
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 8.66(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
2 - 6 Years

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