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Emily Gravett is a wonderful children’s writer and illustrator who creates picture books for children right from pre-school (Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear) to much more sophisticated texts for children through the whole primary school spectrum. Books like, Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears, which helps a child identify things they are frightened of, and find ways to conquer those fears, and The Rabbit Problem which is a hilarious and clever pop up book for older children.

There is often a sense of wicked delight in Gravett’s books. The playfulness can be subtle as in the book Wolves, or much more overt, as is the  case with The Odd Egg.

In The Odd Egg, duck is sad because he wants an egg of his own. All of his bird friends have eggs and he doesn’t. It is never overtly explained in the text that duck cannot have an egg of his own because he is a drake, but my children picked this up straight the way and thought it was hilarious.

The other birds flaunt their contentedness and duck is sad. He eventually finds an enormous egg, which he decides to hatch.  The disparity in size between duck and his egg is so beautifully handled and duck looks wonderfully silly, teetering on the top of his egg.

Gravett balances the inequality between duck and his peers by using contrasting pages to show the mother birds together on one page and the duck isolated on the opposing page.

Things start to get interesting when the birds’ eggs hatch one by one. Here, Gravett uses cut away page slices (like The Hungry Caterpillar) so that your child has to wait for the ‘reveal’ moment and turn over the slice to see what has hatched.

The birds all have ‘standard’ youngsters until it gets to duck, which is what the reveal has been working up to all this time.

The book is very funny, beautifully illustrated and very clever. It works with a lightness of touch which means the whole story is stripped down and elegant but full of things you could talk about with the child or children as you read.

I would recommend it for pre-schoolers but the story has depths that can be explored right up to the end of Key Stage One learning.

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