Winners Wednesdays: The Egg Tree

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In 1950, Katherine Milhous published her best-known book The Egg Tree.  By 1951, The Egg Tree won the Caldecott Medal for its colorful and captivating illustrations.

1951 Caldecott Medal winner The Egg Tree

1951 Caldecott Medal winner The Egg Tree

The pleasant story depicts children celebrating Easter with an egg hunt and the various places where the colorful eggs are hidden. The content seems fitting for younger children who may enjoy imagining the intricacies of the language and how it differs from the illustrations. Because of the length, the book captures a lot of information about the family dynamic and allows children to see the purpose of maintaining traditions and the love of family.

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The writing style of the author differs greatly from the picture books of today. The pages contain far more text than is typical in modern age, and the language in the story is more complex as it incorporates more obscure words that fit the narrative. Milhous also uses very descriptive language that ties in nicely with her illustrations. The length of the book would also be unusual if published today but would make for an appropriate read aloud for young readers.

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While this book won the Caldecott Medal in 1951, the illustrations are unique. The pictures are obviously outdated compared to today’s standard, however, one can see how the vibrant and detailed paintings garnered attention in 1950. Despite the old-timey feel of the illustrations, they are beautiful in the detail that does not overwhelm the reader and broad scoped drawings that show scenic, outdoors backgrounds.

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The age of the story is revealed in its lack of depth; the only themes I could find were of tradition and family. The book also seems very happy as there is no real conflict or tragedy. The simplicity of The Egg Tree provides a fondness that brings one back to memories of the exciting holidays of childhood. The book is notable for the progressive artwork of the time and the still classically beautiful illustrations. While the story does not challenge or provoke much thought, the nostalgic feel makes it an enticing read.

-Alyson Haffner

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