Egged on to greatness

24th March 2000 at 00:00
THE EMPEROR'S EGG. By Martin Jenkins. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Walker Books pound;9.99.

his is a flawless factual picture book. From the illustrator's dedication - "For Mum and Dad, from egg number one!" - to the back cover blurb - "Welcome to the story of the world's most devoted dad!" - it is infused with a lively and captivating wit.

The Emperor's Egg, about the male Emperor penguin's role in hatching the female's egg, won the unanimous approval of the judges in this year's TESEducational Publishers' Council Junior Information Book Award.

To describe Jane Chapman's artwork as mere illustration would be to do it a disservice. Her suddn shifts from wide-angle to close-up focus give the book a cinematic feel and her use of colour is as perfect in depicting the Antarctic snowscape as the warmth of the nest.

Jenkins is a conservation biologist. Commissioning experts to write books for young children often ends disastrously. But his easy, chatty style has been pitched at just the right level for young readers. Describing the process of feeding by regurgitation, Jenkins comments : "Yuk, you may think. Yum, thinks the chick." You will think yum too.

Michael Thorn is deputy head of Hawkes Farm primary, Sussex, and a judge of this year's Junior Information Book Award.

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