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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Egg: Nature's Perfect Package, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2015. $19.99 ages 6 and up

"A mother splash tetra leaps from the water and attaches her eggs to an overhanging leaf. The father remains nearby and frequently splashes the eggs to keep them moist. As soon as they hatch, the baby fish drop into the water."

If you read this blog regularly you cannot help but know how much I admire the work that Robin Page and Steve Jenkins do in getting accessible and instructive books into the hands of our youngest readers. I have also mentioned how in awe I am for the questions that they must ask in order to begin the research for every new book. I am sure that one thing leads to another; I honor their spirit and their consistency in creating these science books that so quickly become favorites.

So, sharing this new book with you will have me praising what I have come to expect from them: appealing design, excellent research, and lots and lots of great reading and fascinating details.

"When it's time for the common green lacewing to lay her eggs, she produces dozens of long thin stalks and attaches them to a leaf. Then she places an egg at the end of each stalk, putting it out of reach of hungry ants."

When I tell you about design and how it impacts interest in content, you need to know that the introduction is egg-shaped and gives readers a preview of the egg and its many variations - size, color, form - and where they might be found. Turn the page and  you are greeted double page spread showing a number of egg layers, and the size, color and shape of the eggs they lay. As they do so well in many of their books, the authors give perspective with a clear explanation:

"Except for the crow egg, which is shown life-size, these eggs are greatly enlarged. Silhouettes at the bottom of the page show the actual size of the eggs."

What a great lesson in seeing things as they really are for young readers.

From one spread to another we are introduced to almost anything we would want to know about this incredibly compact package. The amount of text provided is just right for the considered audience, the cut-paper, lifelike illustrations will certainly capture and hold attention as the information provided is shared. Bonus: we all come away knowing so much more than we did when we started the reading. That is why I am always so excited to see new books from this wonderfully inquisitive pair. They share their wonder at the world in a way that makes their readers wonder, too.

In backmatter, we watch a chicken and an alligator develop within that small, enclosed space. Thumbnail sketches of each of the 54 creatures included are provided and further facts accompany them. A list of additional information will lead interested readers to find out more.

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