This is the story of P. Zonka who doesn't lay eggs. She spends her time looking at the beauties of nature around her. When the other hens finally convince her to try egg-laying, P. Zonka does indeed lay an egg...and what an egg! Like nothing they have every seen before, holding all the colors and patterns she has absorbed from nature.
A brief author's note explains the inspiration for the story in the Ukrainian tradition of pysanky, decorated eggs. I really enjoyed this story; it's a familiar trope (I thought immediately of Lionni's Frederick) but presented in a fresh, new setting with unique, gorgeous artwork. I also appreciated the subtle breaking of gender stereotypes, when one of the hens, Gloria, turns out to be a rooster.
I love the way she adapted her art for this book - as you can see even in the cover, everything is round and swirling, just like a pysanka. The chickens' feathers are squiggles and zigzags, the flowers curve around the page, the eggs are smooth ovals with swift, strong brushstrokes.
My library paints eggs every year, usually right before Easter and I was interested to see how pysanky are created. The process is a bit too complicated for the size and age of my group, but I'm hoping to put up pictures as well as copies of P. Zonka as inspiration before the big event. Of course, my main interest is Julie Paschkis' art, since I'll be featuring her this summer. I read and watched a whole slew of interviews, including discussions of her art techniques, before deciding how to present her art. Paschkis uses several different techniques and her style changes as well, although her vibrant colors and the line of her work is always recognizable. I decided to go with a quilt/collage project, from a recent book called Mooshka which features a lot of quilts and with painting, emphasizing the swirling lines and stylized decorations of P. Zonka by giving the children stencils to draw pictures with which they can then paint in and around, giving them a little more structure. It's going to be a fun summer!
Verdict: This would make a great Easter story, but any time of the year is perfect for celebrating art, imagination, and eggs! Highly recommended.
ISBN: 9781561458196; Published 2014 by Peach Tree; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library