From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-With winsomely simple text and illustrations, this picture book is less a story than a convergence of fanciful possibilities. It begins with a large blue egg that's just beginning to crack: "An egg is not a baby bird." On the next page, the crack widens and an amorphous red face peeks out: "...but it will become one, except if...." When the small head becomes fully visible and reptilian, readers are led to believe, "it becomes a baby snake." But every time they think they know where they stand, another "except if" giddily overthrows their expectations. Reminiscent of favorites like Mike Lester's A Is for Salad (Putnam, 2000) and George Shannon's Tomorrow's Alphabet (Greenwillow, 1996), Except If is an entertaining, intriguing mental adventure.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Averbeck plays contrarian in this fun exercise in defying narrative assumption. An egg is not a baby bird, / but it will become one / except if—and here we see that the tiny red face emerging from the cracked egg is not, in fact, a bird—it becomes a baby snake. Page by page, the primary-colored pastels-and-watercolor illustrations tell a tale that looks to be headed one way until the page turn reveals another. It’s not actually a snake; it’s a lizard. (And the lizard looks as surprised as the reader.) The lizard’s fly-eating life ends when it grows into a dinosaur, and that dinosaur’s life ends, literally, when it turns into a fossil. It’s a surprising turn of events—our cute little protagonist is dead?—but Averbeck continues his run-on sentence undaunted, showing us how the fossil’s jaw creates a bare cliff that harbors a nest, which hatches an egg that will not become a baby bird . . . except if it does. It’s a concept that starts cleverly and then, almost sneakily, warms the heart. Preschool-Grade 1. --Daniel Kraus