cover image The Egg

The Egg

M. P. Robertson. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2546-1

In the tantalizing opening pages of this fantasy, a boy peers into a henhouse and sees a hen perched upon an enormous golden-brown egg: ""George knew something wasn't right when he found more than he bargained for under his mother's favorite chicken."" The only clue to the egg's source is a mysterious hole in the henhouse roof. George uses a wheelbarrow to maneuver the armchair-sized egg into his house, and in a tense four-part spread, he watches as something (""It definitely wasn't a chicken!"") starts to hatch. After an all-too-brief period of suspense, a muscular, bat-winged baby dragon emerges, and George patiently trains it to fly and to aim its fiery breath. Robertson's (The Bed and Breakfast House) delicate, detail-rich watercolors resemble those in Peter Collington's wordless books, and indeed some of Robertson's multipanel illustrations convey the duo's silent communication (since George ""didn't speak Dragon""). In one sequence, a lesson in ""How to Defeat a Knight,"" George uses a wooden sword to mimic a certain saint, then waves a white flag as the dragon looks at him with affection. Yet many practical considerations go unpictured: How does George get the gigantic egg through his bedroom door? How does he befriend the dragon? And what does a kid feed a giant green lizard? Robertson hints at the magic in his opening pages, but unlike other tales with similar premises (such as Dick King-Smith's middle-grade novel The Water-Horse), his story doesn't realize its potential. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)