Title: TWO SPECKLED EGGS
Written and illustrated by: Jennifer K. Mann
Candlewick Press, 2014, fiction
For Ages: 4 and up
Themes/Topics: friendship, cliques, outsiders, being different/unique
Ginger’s birthday party was in two weeks, and she wanted to invite all the girls in her class…
except Lyla Browning.
Summary (from the publisher): “It’s Ginger’s birthday, and she has to invite all the girls in her class to her party, including Lyla Browning. Lyla isn’t like the other girls: she smells like old leaves, doesn’t talk much, and once brought a tarantula to school for show-and-tell. On the day of the party, Lyla is much earlier than everyone else. But even after the others arrive, Ginger’s party doesn’t go quite the way she’d hoped: some of the girls change the rules to the games, and no one likes her silver and gold birthday cake — except Lyla. By the time Lyla gives Ginger her present — a tiny homemade nest with two delicious malted-milk eggs — Ginger begins to wonder: is being different really such a bad thing?”
Why I Like This Book: I wish this book had been around when I was in elementary school. As a kid who often felt a bit “odd” or “different,” and who spent way too much energy trying to minimize my differences, this story would’ve meant a lot to me.
The story feels authentic. It doesn’t try to sugarcoat Ginger’s initial feelings about Lyla. And her change of heart feels authentic, too. The two girls may be different in many ways, but they have some compelling similarities – most notably, a strong sense of curiosity – that make all the difference.
From a writerly perspective, I appreciate how this story is framed around a birthday party. It lends the story the structure inherent in the event – the invitations, anticipation, and the event itself with its unexpected bumps and pleasant surprises.
(For a collection of picture book reviews, along with resources, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)