Egg Drop is a quirky and original twist on Humpty Dumpty, but instead of sitting on a wall, the unnamed egg in the story has a literally flighty dream — that of soaring in the skies. Of course, if you recall the plight of Humpty Dumpty, you’ll know that this egg doesn’t have a very happy ending.
In fact, from beginning to end, the entire story is designed to read like a cautionary tale told to a child — only in this case, it’s a mother hen telling the story to her baby chicks and, perhaps, her unhatched eggs who might be harbouring the same wild fantasy.
“The egg was young. It didn’t know much. We tried to tell it, but of course it didn’t listen. If only it had waited,” rued the hen, since if the egg had waited to be hatched into a baby chick as told, it would have achieved its goal. (Naturally, the egg is very likely a metaphor for reckless, impatient children who, ahem, don’t listen to their mothers…)
The trouble is, most children have no notion of danger — let alone mortality — and may unknowingly put themselves in harm’s way. Hence, this book is a brilliant way to gently impress upon them the frailty of life — Mortality-Lite, if you will — by using something innocuous that every child will be familiar with.
Complementing the story are fantastical illustrations of the naive egg, including the unforgettable spread of his ‘gruesome’ end — well… as gruesome an ending as an egg can face, that is.
While the story manages to end on a light note, not all kids (and/or their parents) will be happy about the egg’s ignominious fate. For the record, though, my four-year-old enjoyed the book, as did I, and I love how it cleverly gets its message — to think twice before performing harebrained (or, perhaps, eggheaded) stunts that can get one seriously hurt or killed — across loud and clear without resorting to actual gore (eggs get broken all the time, after all).
Fanciful dreams and happy endings are all well and good, but some realities just shouldn’t be minced — period.