Peg Gets Crackin’

Beaming Bks. Feb. 2024. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781506492070.
Toddler-PreS–Peg is a freshly laid chicken, but still inside the egg and anxious about hatching. After her siblings hatch and follow their mother out of the barn, Peg stays in the egg. She imagines scary things in the world outside, represented by a shadow of a dragon and an indeterminable creature. Eventually Peg pops out of her egg, steps outside, finds her mother, and realizes everything is okay. As a narrative, the story lacks stakes. As a story about learning to overcome anxiety, the book lacks substance. No clear incident prompts Peg to burst forth from her shell. She just does. Peg, the tiny yellow chick, has verve, but about half the character art and text is on a white page. The rest of the book is set against a plain, dark barn interior which, while thematically appropriate, does not give readers much to look at.
VERDICT Simple text could make for a fun read-aloud, but stronger titles are available about both chickens and anxiety: the human baby in Fran Manushkin’s Baby, Come Out! faces a similar dilemma and the suspense is all but unbearable and so satisfying.

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