Wednesday, August 13, 2008

(very) early review of Tillie Lays An Egg by Terry Golson

Tillie Lays An Egg (Scholastic Press) won't be published until January 2009 , which means I couldn't even find a photo of the jacket art to show you, but I couldn't resist writing an early review.

Terry Golson is very slightly chicken-mad - on the website devoted to her hens, one can check out their activities (inside and outside their coop!) via hen-cam, and of course Golson blogs regularly about the gals. Golson is also a cookbook writer, one of which deals exclusively with - surprise! - eggs.

Tillie Lays An Egg is about 7 chickens who live on Little Pond Farm. Six of these hens lay eggs regularly in 3 comfy nesting boxes, but the adventurous Tillie likes to explore; her eggs are laid in such inappropriate places as a dustpan, a sugar bowl, and an ironing board.

This functions as a very easy guessing game book - children are asked "Where has Tillie laid her egg?" and can easily find it in the accompanying photos. The text is simple and straightforward, just like Tillie. "On Wednesday, Tillie goes into the kitchen. She does not find any worms, but she does find some breakfast. Delicious, she thinks. This tastes much better than the corn in the barnyard." The photo shows a curious Tillie on the kitchen table, leaning eagerly over a bowl of cereal. The table is covered with a chicken-covered tablecloth and there are many other objects with chicken motifs - the bowl, the glass of orange juice, the napkin, the "Barnyard" comic book, and so on.
Ah, the photos! Filled with chicken object d'art and tschotchkes (all from Golson's own extensive collection), they exude nostalgic charm. Tillie and her fellow hens strut, peck, and peer out from every page. Even the background behind the text (which is always placed in a scalloped scrapbooky frame) is composed of various hen-centric retro designs.

Never have I seen such a clean and cozy chicken coop. Fluffy with many inches of soft wood shavings and utterly spotless, this is a far cry from the large but - um - rustic coop my own chickens live in. No doubt the coop was tidyed up for the photo shoot, but still - nice digs! And the farmhouse is to die for.

This is a delightful picture book that will be fun to share with kids at toddler and preschool storytime (use with Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke and with all your other favorite chicken tales). Look for it with eager anticipation in January!

Above are a couple of my own girls, Kaya and Griffin - no longer young, but still possessing plenty of vim, vigor, and egg-laying potential.


  1. Hi Eva-
    Thanks for the early review of my Tillie book! Yes, I'm chicken mad (you don't have to qualify it with "slightly") and no, I didn't tidy up the barn for the photo shoot - it really is kept that clean. What Scholastic probably didn't tell you was that in order to take those photos, I trained my chickens to pose using positive reinforcement - as you know, hens are rather food motivated. Anyway, the book was as fun to create as it is to read.

  2. It was my pleasure! A fabulous chicken book is worth its weight in gold. And now I'm inspired - perhaps those no-account teenagers of mine can be bribed (er, persuaded) to clean out the coop on a daily basis. I'll show them the hencam for inspiration...

  3. "Rather food motivated" is so true. I can't wait to read this book.

    Your hens are beauties, Eva.

  4. Thanks, Susan! When I want to honor their gorgeousness, I call them "fluffbutts" - quite a complement in the world of hens.