There are some children’s books that every child should read. People remember the “true” classics like Charlotte’s Web, Treasure Island, Anne of Green Gables and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
But for every one of the books that make it onto a Summer Reading list, there are dozens that have been around for years and enjoyed by many generations of kid readers which don’t make these “classic” lists. Their fate is to be remembered fondly by readers and forgotten by reading lists. Until a librarian (like me!) comes along and recommends one as an Old Favorite. The Enormous Egg is one of these.
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The Enormous Egg, by Oliver Butterworth is the story of Nate, a boy from Freedom, New Hampshire. He’s a pretty normal 12 year old kid, even though he has a rooster in his basement, a chicken coop in the yard, and his father runs the local newspaper.
When one of his chickens became broody, then lumpy, Nate knew that she had a problem. But he didn’t expect to find her one morning, sitting on an egg as big as she was! It didn’t really look like a hen’s egg; it was kind of leathery and melon-shaped. The poor chicken couldn’t even keep it warm, since she slipped right off it. Nate had to help, turning the egg and keeping a stove going to heat the egg.
No one knew what to expect when the egg hatched. A whole brood of chicks? An alligator? Nate’s dad put a story in the newspaper, but no one ever heard of such an enormous egg. Everyone told Nate it wouldn’t hatch.
Then, fishing one day, Nate met Dr. Ziemer, who seemed very curious about the egg. He encouraged Nate to keep it warm and try to hatch it, and to call him if…or when…it did.
Nate’s egg does hatch, and what comes out isn’t a clutch of chicks or an alligator–it’s a leathery, lizard-like creature with tiny horns. Dr. Ziemer, who’s a paleontologist, tells Nate that he’s hatched a live baby triceratops!
As anyone could imagine, a triceratops hatching from a chicken’s egg causes quite a stir in both Nate’s town and the scientific community! Nate, his family and Dr. Ziemer have their hands full trying to raise a baby dinosaur, figure out a senator investigating their possibly illegal (in his mind) activities, and dealing with a whole bunch of attention from all over the world.
Who wouldn’t want a baby dinosaur? Nate’s going to find out.
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The Enormous Egg is a very funny story which was originally published in 1956. Nate’s a very likable character, and in his mind, everything that happens is perfectly normal. Everyone could hatch a dinosaur, if they really wanted to.
The humor is very much like Homer Price; dry and witty. And there’s a dinosaur! Mr. Beazley has to be one of the most unusual and best pets in children’s books…right up there with Captain Cook and Greta of Mr. Popper’s Penguins or Boris from My Father’s Dragon.
This is a great read aloud story for families with kids of all ages. Probably dinosaur-lovers in third and fourth grades would enjoy reading it alone. If you enjoyed Nate’s adventures, Oliver Butterworth wrote two other excellent books–The Trouble with Jenny’s Ear and The Narrow Passage. Both are enjoyable and well worth reading.