May 10, 2007


Last One In Is a Rotten Egg! By Diane deGroat. HarperCollins. $15.99.

Here Comes T. Rex Cottontail. By Lois G. Grambling. Illustrated by Jack E. Davis. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins. $15.99.

It’s Easter, Little Critter! By Mercer Mayer. HarperFestival. $6.99.

My Little Pony Easter Surprise Coloring Book. By Sadie Chesterfield. Illustrations by Ken Edwards. HarperFestival. $3.99.

      Easter is over for this year, but if your kids really enjoy the secular elements of the holiday – dressing up, searching for colorful eggs, telling bunny stories, and so on – they will enjoy these books no matter what the calendar says. Last One In Is a Rotten Egg! – for ages 3-8 – is actually designed to teach a year-round lesson about selfishness. It’s the 10th story about Gilbert the opossum and his friends (other books have dealt with school, birthdays, Christmas and so on). This time, Gilbert and his sister, Lola, are excited when their cousin, Wally, comes to visit for Easter – until it turns out that Wally’s whole focus is on winning at everything. He insists on rushing first into the house and into the dining room, finishing his lunch first, and being first to the start of the Easter egg hunt, repeatedly exclaiming, “Last one in [or “finished,” “up the hill,” etc.] is a rotten egg!” Wally also proves pushy and selfish during the egg hunt, ending up with the most eggs – including a special one that Lola actually finds but that he takes. Then Gilbert thinks of a way to turn Wally’s penchant for speed against him, so Wally loses all his eggs; but at the end, he and Gilbert agree that it’s best to share. The Easter elements here are secondary to the final message.

      Easter is more central in a romp called Here Comes T. Rex Cottontail. The idea is that Peter Cottontail has a cold, so T. Rex helpfully agrees to deliver Peter’s Easter eggs, but he can’t hop well at all – and ends up shattering Peter’s whole basket of eggs. So T. Rex’s dinosaur friends search for replacement eggs while T. Rex practices his hopping. After the dinosaurs color the eggs until late at night, T. Rex delivers them – and when they crack open, they turn out to contain all sorts of baby animals, since the dinosaurs were given them by friendly egg-layers such as Duck and Goose. The result is “the noisiest Easter ever,” with plenty of fun for all the book’s characters and for kids ages 3-6.

      Still-younger children should enjoy It’s Easter, Little Critter! and My Little Pony Easter Surprise Coloring Book (both for ages 2-6, but most appealing in the younger part of that age range). The Little Critter book features attractively designed flaps that show part of the drawings on right-hand pages, then fold out to show further developments in the story. For example, one flap shows Little Critter looking in a mirror after dressing up on his own; fold it out and you see him proudly displaying the tie he tied himself (which is, ahem, rather bunched up). There’s an egg hunt here, and a visit to grandparents, and a bunny named (of course) Egg, and everything is gentle and mildly amusing. The My Little Pony coloring book is gentler still, with flowers and eggs and lots of wide-eyed ponies to color, plus some cute stickers. There are even simple counting, line-tracing and find-the-different-picture puzzles – added fun for fans of these popular characters.

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