Book Spotlight: Out of the Egg by Tina Matthews


I love the light-hearted and playful picture books that portray Easter egg hunts and other fun Easter traditions. But, I’ve also been searching high and low for a picture book that gently portrays the essence of Easter. I think Out of the Egg fits the bill even though it is not officially an Easter story.

Out of the Egg is a modern take on the folktale, The Little Red Hen. In this version of the folktale, the hen has her own chick who teaches the characters in the book, and also the readers, a very special lesson.

This is a story of a Red Hen who finds a seed. She asks for help from the Fat Cat, the Dirty Rat and the Greedy Pig. When the Red Hen doesn’t receive help from her friends she goes ahead to plant the seed, water the seedling, dig the weeds and shelter the tree. She does it all by herself.

After years have passed, the tree becomes a safe place for her to lay her eggs and a shady place for young animals to play. However, the Red Hen doesn’t want to let the little cat, the little rat and the little pig under the tree to play because their parents didn’t help her to plant and grow the tree.

The little chick is appalled by her mother’s attitude. This little chick knows how to forgive and invites the animals in to play. The story ends with the Red Hen sending each of the children home with a seed of their own. Like all good folktales, there is a lovely moral to the story.

Clear examples of cause and effect are also evident in the story. The Red Hen teaches the reader how to solve some of the problems encountered when planting a tree: protecting seeds and seedlings from sun, wind, rain and weeds.

Tina Matthews has used the traditional Japanese woodblock technique to create the illustrations which are predominately black and white. The only colours present throughout the book are red for the hen and her chick, and green for the seed and the tree it becomes.

This is yet another book where I find hidden treasures in the illustrations. Tina Matthews’ illustrations subtly depict modern society: puffs of smoke, dumped rubbish, television, computers and mobile phones. The understated messages in the details of the illustrations make me giggle. Some of the details include the Greedy Pig eating an iconic fast-food burger and throwing away the packaging, the Dirty Rat attempting to spell Not I, but instead spelling Knot Eye, and the irony of the animals watching trees on the television when they are first asked by the Red Hen to help plant the seed.

Out of the Egg is a simple story of kindness and forgiveness, but if you’re looking to gently introduce your children to the religious message of Easter I think this is the book. There is no religious content or terminology in the book whatsoever, but there are subtle parallels which can be made if you’re inclined to make them.

Those people that believe Jesus lived on this Earth would agree that, in summary, Jesus tried to teach mankind to love one another. He was always quick to forgive. When the little chick invites the little cat, rat and pig to play with her under the tree she disregards the lack of help anyone can her mother when she was planting the tree. The simple gesture of inviting the other animals to play demonstrates forgiveness and kindness.

Before being crucified Jesus told his believers to eat the bread and drink his blood in memory of him. Once Jesus died he was resurrected so people could spread his word. The Red Hen in Out of the Egg gives a seed to the little cat, rat and pig as a symbol and a reminder to show kindness and forgiveness to others.

This story is bound to delight, however you decide to interpret it.

You may be interested in other Easter Books featured on our site.

Book Details:

Buy online from Fishpond / Booktopia/ SeekBooks

Author: Tina Matthews

ISBN: 9781921529559

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Walker Books Australia, March 2011

Recommended age: 3+

RRP: $15.95 (AUD)

Review copy kindly supplied by Walker Books Australia

Book Spotlight: Out of the Egg by Tina Matthews


  1. I’ve always loved the story of “The Little Red Hen”. I think it teaches a great lesson; patience and hard work go a very long way! I also love modern twists on old tales.

  2. I love the fact that there are treasures to find in the illustrations, as well as meanings to find in the text. Sounds like a wonderful book!

  3. I love the concept that the little hen can branch out on her own two feet and decide to do something even though it goes against the mothers hen…. means that children can learn to think for themselves, and choose their own morals. Love the simplicity in the illustrations too!

  4. I love the idea that there is not only the basic story of kindness, forgiveness, cause and effect but also through the illustrations children can learn something new everytime they read this book.

  5. I love that that the pictures will entertain mum and dad -what better way to encourage parents to read to their kids than to make books fun for adults and i also love a book that encourages conversations between parent and child on how it relates to our own lives.

  6. I love the sound of the illustrations and their simplicity (with the colours) – adds to the impact of the story I think. Also like that this book could be used as a starting point for discussions about many topics with children – forgiveness and understanding, religion and Easter, and environmental issues – as well as being an entertaining read.

  7. I love how it is fun and easy to read for both mum & child. A book that makes us look at a new side of the story each time.

  8. This book sounds absolutely delightful. It seems there is a lot to teach from this book. Not only the idea of forgiveness and not carrying a grudge (much less those who never did anything wrong) but the idea of putting in the time and effort to grow something that helps protects your family. Shows how you should not get everything handed to but you work at it and you reap the benefits.
    Thank you for sharing this book with everyone.

  9. Books such as Out of The Egg are a wonderful way to entertain children as well as provide gentle lessons on behaviour.

  10. What an amazing book- kids still love direction and it’s great that the Out of the egg can give us opportunities to discuss an issue such as forgiveness with our young ones(even grand children) and a great message in amongst all the commercialism of Easter.

  11. I like the simple black and white drawings with the little red chick.I’m always on the lookout for stories at Easter that are new but still tell a great message at this time of year. I love that with the giveaway of this book to the lucky 5 there is included a little red chick of their very own.

  12. Such a lovely way to introduce the true meanings of Friendship, Kindness and Friends ship. A practical way to discuss these ideas with older children (like my 5yr old) without them becoming bored. And an enjoyable story to read t younger children (like my 1yr old) with basic animals to point out. Suck a wonderful all-round story

  13. The messages about reserving judgment and forgiving are gentle, subtle rather than preached, so they reach deep into the soul of the little reader. The wisdom of the innocent child, free from the world’s prejudices and free to speak up, is empowering too. These components = a beautiful, important story.

  14. Red Hen is able to learn about forgiveness from her own Little Chick. This twist on a traditional story, together with its modern illustrations, sounds like a lovely story to share with little ones.

  15. Oh even if I do not win this competition, i’m going to go hunting to find it!! How lovely :)
    I like how the story doesn’t distract children with too many colourful images, but rather, gives them the opportunity to listen carefully to the message. I also like how there are modern everyday objects intertwined which make it fun for the mummy’s and daddy’s too!

  16. What a beautiful story

  17. Di said: On April 16, 2011

    I love the message it sends about forgiving others and being kind to other people. If we were all kind to others and treated others how we want to be treated the world would be a much better place.

  18. Ooohhh this book sounds delightful – I really like the parallels you have drawn to the religious meaning of Easter without it being a religious book as such – what a lovely way to introduce the meaning of Easter to littlies without overt religious messages.

  19. A perfect book for all religious denominations … myself and my son are Hindu, and this book is a beautifully gentle way to introduce forgiveness and kindness …

  20. Our young don’t only learn from us – we learn from our young! Go Little Chick! Inclusion is a wonderful thing as is forgiveness. Beautiful morals for any age group!

  21. This really sounds like a gorgeous book. Love the themes of kindness and forgiveness – we could all learn a lot more of that. I also love the parallels you have made to the Easter story which is all about forgiveness and what Jesus did for us. Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, regardless of whether I win one or not,

  22. the point that the little chick is appauled by the mother hen’s attitude reminds us that we are all born with the ability to forgive others. It is a learned behaviour to hold grudges and be unforgiving. This story recognises that we are all individulas and just because someone does something you don’t like does not mean that everyone associated with them should be treated the same. To me that shows tollerance and understanding.

  23. Love the little red hen book.
    This book is great for little ones, as it explans what it means to be a true friend.
    Agreat book.

  24. I love the message about nurturing (the seed to become a strong tree) and also forgiveness. I also love that the book isn’t overly religious – so it would be perfect for toddlers, and allow parents to expand on the subtle religious symbolism if they wish to.

  25. Thank you for this review! I just purchased a copy through your link – I hope it’s affiliate!? Both myself and my husband believe in Jesus and the gospel message of Easter and I’m always looking for books that help convey the beautiful message of love and forgiveness, especially ones that aren’t just direct retellings of the Bible. There are plenty of those, and to be honest, they’re not highly creative or beautiful. I believe the God who created us and made us so highly unique and beautiful loves it when people work hard to make something meaningful, different and beautiful. This one sounds great! Thanks again for a detailed review.

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