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Emma’s Eggs

by Margriet Ruurs, Barbara Spurll, illus.

Emma is a free range hen in the truest sense of the term. The chicken coop is available for her pleasure, but she also has the run of the family farm and even the house. But her freedom bumps up against complication when she begins to lay eggs. Imitating what she has seen the farmer’s family do in their kitchen, Emma tries to scramble, boil, and paint her eggs. Not surprisingly, the human family is unappreciative of her efforts. “That’s not what you do with eggs!” they repeatedly tell her. However, Emma’s frustration gives rise to a solution, and by the end of the book she has adopted a more traditional hen’s approach to her eggs.

This book is light fare, and should appeal to a wide audience of anyone over the age of three. The primary value of the tale is that it entertains; if one had to scratch around for thematic significance one might simply cite the universality of a young character trying to perfect her creations and feeling deeply concerned at missing the mark. Emma meets with a kind of success in the end, but not along the lines of The Little Engine That Could. The message here, if there must be one, is that we can try too hard and that it is sometimes better just to go with the flow. The story is well written: the narrative descriptions and dialogue convey the energy of Emma’s human-like ambitions while preserving a strong sense of her chicken nature.

The illustrations add immeasurably to the humour in this book. The greatest strength of Spurll’s pictures are their gestural quality, the best example of this being a highly amusing frame in which Emma whirls above one of her broken eggs, trying to scramble it with her feet. Fans of Babe will be pleasantly reminded of the film when they see Spurll’s animals pressing their noses against the kitchen window and the mouse perched on the border of one of her frames.


Reviewer: Bridget Donald

Publisher: Stoddart


Price: $15.95

Page Count: 32 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-7737-2972-0

Released: Oct.

Issue Date: 1996-8

Categories: Picture Books

Age Range: ages 3–7