THE EASTER CHICK

Geraldine Elschner, Author, Alexandra Junge, Illustrator , illus. by Alexandra Junge, trans. by Marianne Martens. North-South $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7358-1855-2

A chick who refuses to leave her egg until Easter morning takes center stage in this informative holiday book from Switzerland. Hilda, the anxious mother hen, consults Max, an astute barnyard owl, to learn exactly when Easter will occur. Junge's light but often intricately textured illustrations endow the farm animals with comically shaped bodies and wide, expressive eyes. Several pages feature droll sidebar vignettes of the impatient chick inside her egg pacing, twiddling "thumbs" and tallying the days. Adding another whimsical twist are abstract rabbits hidden within the spreads (e.g., one faintly etched in the barn wall, another doing duty as the tip of a dandelion leaf, etc.). The sunny mood of the art compensates for the lengthiness of Hilda's quest as she scrambles back and forth between Max and her egg, mastering each step of a complicated formula: "Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that comes after the first day of spring." Alluding to the religious aspect of Easter, one spread shows sheep lolling in pastureland backed by three crosses atop a distant hill. With art that offers comedy, hidden pictures, a little science (the phases of the moon) and the possibility of religious discussion, this book is definitely worth a good look. Ages 5-8. (Feb.)

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