Aston, Dianna Hutts, illus. by Sylvia Long. An Egg is Quiet. Chronicle Books, 2014 (reprint). ISBN 978-1452131481 36 pp. $16.99
An Egg is Quiet is a rich natural history picture book, celebrating diversity by showcasing over sixty eggs from birds, fish, reptiles, insects and more. Aston’s poetic introduction (“It sits there, under it’s mother’s feathers… on top of it’s father’s feet… buried beneath the sand. Warm. Cozy.”) is the jumping off point for an eggs factapolooza. Eggs are described visually as shapely, colorful, textured, and artistic, with beautifully rendered examples of each. Eggs are also characterized as clever (for camouflage) and giving (for nurturing). Textual asides provide more information about a particular species or trait. Each egg is identified by common name. Dinosaurs and embryos are given a little extra attention. Eggs pictured larger than actual size are noted, all measurements are given in English and compared to objects children might be familiar with, such as a jellybean.
The paintings are absolutely gorgeous from the lush endpapers patterned after the scarlet tanager egg, to the closeup of a nest with one ready-to-hatch egg. The attention to detail is incredible: twisting branches and vines, patterned stones, and tendrils of grass and leaves augment the pictures and fill in habitat. The design itself is lovely and elegant – a large readable script for the main text, and neatly lettered blurbs that act as field notes with more information.
This is potentially a great book for one-on-one sharing; the images create plenty of opportunity for dialogue, and several activities appear to be built in. The first two-page spread contains every egg found in the book, and the final two page spread shows the adult animal, creating an opportunity for a matching game. Young readers will enjoy also spotting specific eggs identified in the “colorful” spread in other places in the book – a kind of paper egg hunt! The ending invites audience participation.
No sources are cited; the acknowledgements thank an earth scientist, a birder and a biologist. This fine complement to the science curriculum is recommended for public and school libraries.