Book of the Week: The Happy Egg

I stumbled across The Happy Egg a couple of years ago. It was written by Ruth Krauss and  illustrated by my old favorite Crockett Johnson (creator of Harold and the Purple Crayon).

The pictures are deceptively simple. I say deceptively because I, at first, thought it would only be appropriate to use for two and three year olds. But I quickly discovered that children as old as eight and nine were enchanted by the concept of a little hatching bird…and a single growing flower that is never discussed in the story but deftly shows the passage of time and is an excellent conversation starter.

Because every age child loves this book, I have used it in several different “levels” of PictureBook Plays:

Two’s – We read and discuss the story. Then I give each child a large piece of fabric to wear as a shell. I read the story again, with them playing the eggs that hatch. We act it out a second time, but this time I include the mama bird sitting on the eggs and I go around and pretend to “sit” on each egg. It cracks them up, and introduces a second character into our play.

Three’s to Five’s – For first time StoryBook Theatre Goers: We read and discuss the story. The children choose to be either an egg or a mama bird. And, just like a regular StoryBook Theatre event, we act it out together.

Three’s to Five’s – Experienced StoryBook Theatre Goers: I take it one step further and find out if anyone wants to be a flower. The flowers grow with the passage of time and, at the end, become new eggs to be sat upon.

Most picture books can be used at varying levels, but The Happy Egg is particularly conducive to it. It’s also great for getting grown-ups to participate in a new form of story-telling. The only problem is, it’s a very small book. The pictures are tiny. As yet, I haven’t found a larger version, but without getting myself in too much trouble, let’s just say that I have very creatively made a much larger version to use with my classes!

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