Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Egg-cellent! The Easter Egg by Jan Brett

"Cheer up! Cheer up! Spring is here!"

"Time to start on my first-ever extraordinary egg," Hoppi said.

Each year the bunny who decorated the winning egg got to help the Easter Rabbit hide the eggs on Easter morning.

Young Hoppi is finally old enough to submit his own extraordinary egg to win a chance to help on Easter morning. But as he searches for ideas, the creations of the older, more-skilled rabbits are intimidating. Flora decorates eggshells and uses them as exquisite little containers for spring wildflowers. Buster Birch carves and decorates beautiful wooden eggs. Aunt Sassyfras' delicious-smelling chocolate eggs perfume the air around her hut, and Granny Ireny adds layers of glowing pastels from her paint pots to create fabulous story eggs. Old Master Hans VanRabbit creates a glowing portrait of the Easter Bunny himself on his egg, and Roberto creates a bouncing, boinging, mechanical robot egg.

All the hard-working artisans are happy to share their materials and advice with Hoppi, but he realizes that trying to copy their creations is not the way to go.
"Thank you," says Hoppi, "but I think I better make the egg that is right for me."

Hoppi hops deep into the woods, hoping for an artistic inspiration, when he suddenly encounters Mrs. Robin, who has a more immediate problem. One of her eggs has fallen from her tree, and she despairs of any chance that she can keep it and the two remaining eggs in the nest warm enough to survive.

Hoppi knew just what he had to do. He sat down carefully and covered the blue egg with his soft, warm fur.

"I'll take care of you the best I can," he whispered.

And in Jan Brett's just published The Easter Egg (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2010), it is the art of the heart that wins the Easter Bunny's attention at last, as he chooses Hoppi's cracked but still beautiful robin's egg, from which the young one has safely hatched, as the winning egg.

As always, Brett's illustrations are drawn with soft but elegant detail and enclosed in her signature frames, here of budding pussy willows, delicately unfurling fern fronds, creeping vines, and the violets, trilliums, and hawthorn flowers of early spring, each page topped by a vignette of Mrs. Robin's developing family. Brett has made each rabbit a different breed to give individuality to each character, with her masterful Easter Rabbit portrayed as a Flemish Giant, driving a gypsy egg wagon pulled by a team of golden Cochin hens.

Brett's latest is one of her best seasonal tales, with a gentle and meaningful theme celebrating individual gifts and delightfully detailed illustrations which charm the eye and intrigue the mind. You can watch as Jan Brett talks about her real-life animal models in her video here.

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  • This sounds like such a gorgeous book! I've just started saving our (blown) eggs ready for easter (we like to fill them with confetti and then smash them on easter morning - a safe but crazy enough activity to make everyone smile before tucking into lots of chocolate!)

    By Blogger Playing by the book, at 2:25 AM  

  • What a lovely book!

    By Anonymous Easter Knitting, at 8:46 PM  

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