FILED IN: Book Reviews

Eggs by Marilyn Singer; illustrated by Emma Stevenson

Written by Marilyn Singer; illustrated by Emma Stevenson
Holiday House; $16.95
32 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-0823417278

Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews

While your child may think of an egg and immediately make the connection to the dozen crated ones sitting in the refrigerator that will make a mean omelet come Saturday morning, Marilyn Singer’s Eggs will open her eyes to a whole new world of eggs and their importance in the life cycle of many different types of wildlife.

Singer explores the broad subject of eggs as laid by birds, spiders, insects, fish, amphibians, and some mammals. From creation to incubation, appearance to the moment of hatching, Eggs gives young readers you-are-there detail with accessible facts and comparisons (for example, a turtle’s eggs are perfectly round and about the size of a ping pong ball; and holding a duck’s egg feels soapy).

Singer’s look at eggs starts with the physical make-up of the egg, from the yolk to the shell, from what the embryo eats to how it gets oxygen. Numerous examples of eggs are given, featuring dozens of varying size, color, and shape. Readers are introduced to how and where the adult lays eggs, how the eggs are protected during incubation, and how long it takes for the young to hatch. While each species exhibits wildly different methods of creating, caring for, and hatching eggs, Marilyn Singer effectively unifies them with her reverence for the miracle of life as performed by the ubiquitous egg, her opening and closing pages bringing the book full circle.

Eggs balances every aspect of the development of eggs among species, representing birds, insects, spiders, amphibians, and select mammals equally during each stage. The well-written prose is easy to follow and full of fascinating tidbits paired with full-color illustrations. For example, the red animal caterpillar will swallow air until the egg pops open while baby alligators use their egg tooth, a specialized, temporary tooth at the end of their snout to push their way out of the egg.

Marilyn Singer’s book is completed by a passage about protecting eggs, along with a glossary, source notes, and wildlife organizations. Young readers (and their parents) for whom the book resonates will be armed with information and resources to encourage and develop their interest.

Emma Stevenson’s gouache artwork gives young readers a level of realism and observation that’s sure to pique interest. She skillfully conveys vibrant colors and textures that bring the prose to life. It’s one thing to read about "round, pearl-like salmon eggs," it’s another to read the description paired with a cluster of luminescent orange spheres. Stevenson’s ability to illustrate wildlife, including wasps, termites, spiders, even cockroaches is almost photographic in its detail.

Young readers with an affinity for wildlife will find much to explore in the words and pictures contained in Eggs.