Mary Newell DePalma, Author, Mary Newell DePalma, Illustrator THE STRANGE EGG Mary Newell D $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-09507-0

DePalma's (Giraffes Aren't Half as Fat) mixed-media illustrations add a quirky, postmodern flair to this tale of an unlikely friendship. Spying a round orange curiosity on the ground, a little bird determines that it is an egg and sits on it. A monkey laughs at her, takes it from her and, to her horror, proceeds to peel it. The monkey explains that this is not an egg but an orange, which he then shares with her. The bird in turn teaches the monkey a new trick when she plants one of the seeds, which they water and tend together, eventually yielding "many, many oranges." Just two dozen sentences sketch the tale, but DePalma's carefully chosen words vividly evoke each scene (the bird "peeked, pecked, poked, and lightly pat-pat-patted;" "They slurped, munched, squirted, crunched, and spit out the seeds"). Her artwork relies on a streamlined palette comprised largely of green, blue, orange and touches of black. Spare, piquant images float on pillows of airy white space; scraps of newsprint and maps add textural interest; and whimsical perspectives reinforce the humorous elements, as in an aerial shot of the bird perched on the orange, spindly legs splayed out as the monkey looks on, only the curl of his tail visible. This offbeat riff on the joys of the unexpected as well as the give-and-take of friendship is eggs-actly right. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 03/01/2001
Genre: Children's
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