Peep and Egg: I’m Not Taking a Bath, by Laura Gehl/Illustrated by Joyce Wan, (Oct. 2017, Farrar Straus Giroux), $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-374-30327-3
Recommended for readers 3-7
I adore Peep and Egg. Yes, they’re illustrated by Joyce Wan; I should have heart-eyed emojis setting off her name every time I talk about one of her books, because I adore her art. In addition to the squeal-worthy art, though, they’re just fun. They’re Elephant and Piggie for the toddler set; one surly little bird and one level-headed friend who manages to steer the other in the right direction.
This time, it’s about bathing. The front endpapers show us a bunch of pigs, happily playing in the mud; the verso shows us a pair of muddy footprints tracking across the page, leading us to the title page, where we see a very dirty Egg, already stating, “I’m Not Taking a Bath”. We know what we’re getting into from the second we open the book, and I don’t know about you, but I’m already giggling. (Maybe it’s because I have three boys and am having deja vu.) Sure enough, there’s Peep, suggesting Egg take a bath. “Too wet!” Egg fires back. Peep suggests different enticing bath ideas: special shampoo, the hose, the dog’s water bowl; all met with reasons why Egg refuses to consider them, ending with the repeated phrase, “I’m NOT taking a bath!” Egg even refuses a bath in the river, to which Peep responds – like most parents I know – with the time-tested, “Okay… well, see ya!” As Egg notices all their friends run by – including the muddy pigs! – ready for a day of playing at the river, Egg changes tune pretty fast and heads to the river!
When Peep offers Egg a towel, Egg politely declines… “because I’m not getting out!” Sound familiar, folks? Peep and Egg works so well because – like Mo Willems’ Pigeon books – we have seen the characters, and they are US. Egg is the fussy toddler and preschooler, starting to make their own decisions; we’re the caregivers, trying to get them to make the decision WE want them to make. We cajole, we entice, we finally say, “Okay, well, I guess I’ll have to play with all of these cool bath toys all by myself“, and our kiddos change their tune. Only to assert themselves again when it’s time to come out of the tub, their fingers wrinkled, lips blue from sitting in the now-cold bathwater. Laura Gehl gets us: children and caregivers alike.
Laura Gehl has loads of great stuff, including curriculum guides and activity sheets, at her website. Joyce Wan has downloads and printables aplenty at her website, too!
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