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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

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Picture Books We Love

What Will Hatch? 5 Egg Identification Picture Books

Eggs are pretty fascinating. There's a delightful sense of mystery and wonder about what will be inside (even if you already know), like opening a present. Ever since The Ugly Duckling and beyond, children's tales have enjoyed using the mystery of eggs to play with unexpected surprises about what will hatch from the egg. Waiting for an egg to hatch also requires a great deal of patience, another theme that resurfaces again and again in children's books. For some favorite picture books about eggs, check out this picture book puzzler and see how many you recognize. The complete book list can be found in the comment below.

For this list, we'll focus on some non-fiction gems that can be used with a variety of ages to practice egg identification as well as expand knowledge about animals, birds, insects and reptiles that lay eggs and their habitats.

1. For the younger set, ages 2-6, What Will Hatch? by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2013) is a great introduction to eggs.

With a very simple, rhyming text, readers are introduced to a variety of different habitats, different shaped eggs and nests and faced with the question, "What will hatch?" Illustrations in a lovely subdued palette of yellows, blues and greens offer further clues about each animal's environment to further inform the guess. The clever use of die-cut pages allows a colorful peek at the next page. Turn the page to see if you've correctly identified the egg and see the hatched baby, often accompanied by a parent.

In this book, children are introduced to the variety of species that lay eggs, whether they are the tiny, jiggly underwater eggs of frogs or the oval, blue nest eggs of a robin. A detailed fact sheet about "oviparous animals" (or animals that lay eggs) offers a chance for further learning at the back of the book.

2. Whose Egg? Text by Lynette Evans, illustrated by Guy Troughton (Insight Kids, 2013)

Next up, for ages 4-8, Whose Egg? has gorgeous realistic illustrations and a text that delves even deeper into the facts. Text offers clues descriptive of the egg such as "tough and leathery" as well as describing the newly hatched baby. "I will hatch with yellow stripes and needle-sharp teeth."

The illustrations offer further clues with realistic depictions of the habitat, nest and egg and even a hint of the mother's tail or feet hanging off the page. The question "Whose egg" is posed on every page, with a clever flaps that lift open each egg, revealing the answer.

From insects to birds to reptiles, I like that this book includes some more unusual animals that are often seen in children's books like the plover, emu and platypus.

3. Hatch! by Roxie Munro (Marshall Cavendish, 2011)

Roxie Munro's Hatch! offers the most challenge and most amount of facts, making it a perfect fit for readers 6-9.

To increase the challenge, here the eggs are pictured on a blank page, no background of habitat or mother's feet to offer any extra clues. Only the realistic depiction of the egg and the descriptive text on the opposite page offer clues to the bird that is about to hatch. The text includes fascinating facts and surprising trivia about the bird that laid each egg, including size, weight, its speed in flight and quirky traits.

Turn the page for an amazing detailed landscape, including illustrations of both the mother and father of the species, the unique nest and further details about each bird. This book includes an unique and interesting assortment of featured birds, some common to picture books such as penguins or ducks or owls, and other not-as-common species such as the Cactus Wren or the Black-Legged Kittiwake. For bonus fun, find the other animals in the habitat listed on the bottom of the page. For more about Hatch!, read our Top of the Shelf review.

While they do not follow, the Guess-the-Egg format for the entire book as the previous three, I want to highlight two more exceptional picture books about birds and eggs.

4. Birds of a Feather by Francisco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais (Chronicle Books, 2012) is an oversized marvel of a picture book, sure to make any book lover squeal with delight.

The lift-the-flap format is so genious and unique. It plays with identification and offers the opportunity to quiz readers not just on egg identification, but on bird silhouettes, feather identification, and even mixing and matching bird body parts, all with interesting facts about each bird. A must-own for homes and classrooms.

5. An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books, 2006) is a dream of a book. Absolutely stunning watercolor illustrations of eggs in all their various sizes, shapes, and colors are accompanied by poetic text and fun, often quirky facts about the eggs. All ages will enjoy spending time poring over the pages of this book and marveling at the beautiful differences between a huge variety of eggs.

What are your favorite non-fiction books for exploring egg identification? Do you do any fun activities with your kids or classroom to learn about eggs? Let us know in the comments below.

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