Book Review: Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s First the __

Posted October 1, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Children's

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s First the __

First the


Laura Vaccaro Seeger

concept book, picture book that was published by Roaring Brook Press on September 4, 2007 and has 28 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

A concept book in picture book form for young children that isn’t a story. Instead it shows how life transforms into something else. The egg becomes a chicken, the tadpole becomes a frog, a word turns into a story, and paint creates a picture.

In 2008, First the __ won the Caldecott Honor and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor. Which just figures since I didn’t like how the “story” was presented.

My Take

There’s a cute use of a cut-out in the first few pages as Seeger introduces us to the characters. Then Seeger explores how she painted the pictures, which somehow leads us back to the chicken who lays an egg.

To be honest, I don’t get it. Sure, the textures of the paintings are gorgeous, and I enjoyed how Seeger used the cut-outs. But what was the point of it all? A tricky roundabout way to introduce kids to the cycle of life? But then why bother with anything other than the chicken and egg?

I’d’ve been better off if I’d read the book summary — so I could understand what the story was supposed to be about. Maybe little kids would figure it out sooner…

If money is an issue, borrow it from the library for the clever layout and pictures. If you have money to burn and are really, really bored…go for it.

The Characters

Egg, chicken, tadpole, frog, seed, flower, caterpillar, cocoon, and then butterfly.

The Cover and Title

The cover is clever and part of the title, I thought. Instead it turns out to be quite misleading to an OCD person like me. The only words are “First the” perched directly above the back of a chicken (on the book I read). It led me to think “First the Chicken”. I guess someone figured the chicken was indeed confusing because the only other covers I could find was with the egg.

With that whining over, I do like the cover. There’s a crayon-like feel to how the oils were used to smudge and stroke in the deep blue sky, the dark green grass, and a nice, fat, white hen. The title is a rough set of brush strokes.

The title of the book I read is First the (chicken). Other book covers read First the (Egg). Just so’s you don’t think there are two different books…