Top positive review
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An EXTRAORDINARY book for children!
on November 28, 2004
"An Extraordinary Egg" is a beginning reader picture book about three sister frogs that live on an island. One of the frogs, Jessica, finds an egg in some stones and brings it home. The three sister frogs believe it is a chicken egg, even though none of them has ever seen a chicken. The egg hatches, and it is an alligator but the frogs still think it is a chicken. They all become good friends, and "the chicken" even saves Jessica's life one day when she falls into the water. Soon though, the chicken's mother and the "chicken" are fatefully reunited. Jessica goes back and tells her sisters that it was very funny that the chicken's mother should call it "my sweet alligator." After all, their chicken couldn't have been an alligator!
I found this picture book by Leo Lionni particularly appropriate for children 4-5 years old, especially kindergarteners. I absolutely loved this humorous tale of three frogs who adopt an alligator they call "chicken" as their friend. Numerous lesson plans for teachers be drawn from its text, including concepts such as friendship, nature, and differences among animals. As part of my author study for World Literature for Children, I compiled a lesson plan about the many differences between chickens, frogs, and alligators. I had students make a chart listing the differences among each. They also explored new vocabulary, like the word "extraordinary," and each child was able to name something they thought was extraordinary. At the end of the lesson, students could write a follow-up story to "An Extraordinary Egg" and illustrate it with some of the same materials that Leo Lionni used to make the pictures for the book.
The illustrations in "An Extraordinary Egg" are nothing short of amazing and beautiful. With each turn of the page, a colorful double page spread is a feast for the eyes. Pen and ink, pastels, and collage were used to create the setting, three frogs, and the alligator. By doing this, Lionni creates a fun and entertaining world that kids won't hesitate to fall into. His illustrations match the age and reading level of the kids who will read the book because Jessica and her sisters are simply illustrated with materials and colors that four and five year olds like to see and use.
The overall quality of this book is outstanding. The text can certainly stand on its own without the illustrations, although the illustrations bring out a humorous element that is key to the storyline (i.e. the chicken is really an alligator). Both text and illustration complement each other in a way that makes the story funny and enjoyable. Other books by Leo Lionni that are similar to this one are: "Cornelius," "It's Mine!," and "Fish Is Fish." These have similar characters and themes (i.e. friendship) that go along with "An Extraordinary Egg." Ruth Heller also has a book called "Chickens Aren't The Only Ones: World of Nature Series" which is pictoral introduction to most animals that lay eggs.
In short, I think this book is a quality picture book, most appropriate for those who can't read yet or are beginning readers. You won't be disappointed with it, because it is simple, funny, beautifully illustrated, and has lessons about friendship and differences, especially qualities that make us unique. It also comes in a Big Book, so teachers can read it to their class without worrying if students can see or not.