Emily Gravett specializes in distinctively dissatisfied picture-book characters. With imagination, ingenuity and a lot of faith, a male duck in her latest book…finds a way to satisfy his maternal yearnings…The imaginations of her picture-book protagonists tend to be in overdrive. They are all odd ducks, and none more so than the one in The Odd Egg, whose story unfolds in delicately rendered pencil and watercolor.
The New York Times
An odd duck finds an odd egg in Gravett's (Meerkat Mail) economically told story. Envious of a quintet of various mother birds snuggling with their eggs, a male duck wants an ovoid bundle, too. From an undisclosed locale, he adopts a gigantic egg whose green spots match his head feathers. The other birds cackle with amusement; the bookish owl consults an "Egg Spotters' Guide" and looks askance at Duck's treasure. Gravett arranges the six eggs across a spread in ascending-size order. When each "creak cracks," layered, before-and-after specially cut flaplike pages reveal each successive baby greeting its mother with a "tweet" or a "honk." Ultimately only Duck's mystery egg remains. Using visual suspense and few words, Gravett depicts an alligator bursting from the shell, snapping its jaws and scattering the naysayers. There is mild ambiguity-not everyone is shown getting out of its way and feathers do fly-yet the gator seems amiable. A parting view shows it waddling after skinny Duck, saying "Mama," wearing a scarf Duck has knitted and booties that resemble a duck's webbed feet. A witty salute to both nature and nurture. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Duck is the only bird that hasn't laid an egg. So he is thrilled to find a large one, thinking it is "the most beautiful egg in the world." The other birds disagree, however. On a series of five shortened pages growing from small to large, the other eggs hatch, as the resulting chicks delight their mothers. But Duck's egg does not. He waits, and waits, until a crack appears followed, when we turn a shortened page, by a "SNAP," and a big surprise. Each of the five bird characters has a distinct charming personality; they interact with each other in believable anthropomorphic fashion. There is no scenery, just the birds and eggs. But nothing more is needed for the naturalistic pencil and watercolor illustrations to create engaging theater. The page designs, particularly the cut pages, don't really need the few words of text. The use of the end pages to show the surprise inhabitant of the odd egg marching away with its "mama" completes the delightful story. The question of how Duck, called "he," could expect to lay an egg is not raised. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
This is the story of a drake who is feeling left out. "All the birds had laid an egg. All except for Duck." When he finds a huge, green-spotted egg, he loves it right away. Sitting high atop it-so high that he barely fits into the picture-he is subjected to the taunts of the egg layers: "Not pretty." "It'll never hatch!" "Ha ha!" Gravett uses narrow pages that gradually increase in size to reveal all of the other eggs hatching, from the smallest chick to the tallest flamingo. While the moms cuddle their new hatchlings, Duck waits-and waits. Leaning against the large egg, he knits up a storm until "Creak Crack, SNAP": out pops an enormous alligator, scaring all of the scoffing birds right off the page. The final, priceless illustration shows an adoring alligator marching-in four knitted slippers and a muffler-behind Duck, murmuring, "Mama." There are many aspects of the story that make it worth adding to the what-have-I-hatched collection. First, it's so simple that toddlers can enjoy it. Second, the layout is unique and well suited to the plot. Third, the illustrations are a joy to behold: funny, personable, and oh-so-eye-catching. The ecru background on every page is a nice touch, lending the book a little extra cachet. Kids will love cracking the pages of this exceptional story.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
This simple plot, illustrated in delicately winsome pencil and buoyant watercolor, will make readers jump at the upshot-and return to be startled again. "All the birds," including a chicken, an owl, a parrot and a toweringly elegant flamingo who doesn't fit on the page, have laid their own eggs-except Duck, who peers curiously below his balletically hoisted leg at the empty spot where an egg should be. When he finds one and adopts it, the others taunt him, a la Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson's classic Carrot Seed: " ‘Ha Ha!' ‘It'll never hatch!' " In a series of lengthening pages (the smallest being two inches from gutter to edge), all the other baby birds hatch while expectant Duck patiently knits. Creamy backgrounds and gentle colors don't mute the shocker of just who Duck's hatchling turns out to be as it shoots leftward out of its egg and across the spread, scattering birds everywhere. Endpapers show baby sporting a knitted scarf and booties, adoringly following proud (male) "mama" Duck. A gem of persistence and sweetness. (Picture book. 3-7)