You can’t get through a list of books for Easter without getting into Rechenka’s Eggs, by Patricia Polacco. I’ve written about her before, but I’m especially excited to tell you about this book, my favorite of all Polacco’s work.
Babushka is known for painting the most exquisite eggs around. Every year she brings her eggs to the Easter festival in Moskva, where she wins first prize for their beauty. “Each day,” Polacco writes, “Babushka would take the shell of an egg from her basket and paint it in wonderful designs, using the shapes of stars and flowers, triangles and circles.”
She paints all through the cold winter.
One winter, while feeding some wild caribou, a goose falls from the sky, blood dripping from its wing. “Hunters did this,” she grumbles, taking the goose home and nursing it back to health. The goose sleeps in a basket on a warm quilt. In gratitude for Babushka’s kindness, the goose, whom Babushka calls Rechenka, lays an egg for breakfast every morning. Then, quite by accident, the goose knocks over Babushka’s beautiful eggs, destroying them and her hopes of winning a prize at the Easter festival.
Amazingly, the goose lays a painted egg for Babushka every single day up until the morning of the fair. They are remarkable and splendid looking. Naturally, Babushka is amazed. “A miracle,” she whispers.
Rechenka puts out these amazing eggs for twelve days straight. Now Babushka can attend the festival in Moskva. Everyone marvels at the eggs at the festival, but the happiness is bittersweet: she knows that spring has arrived, and her lovely Rechenka will fly north to join her friends.
Babushka wins first prize at the festival — a feather-bed quilt! — and returns home to her poetry and her tea. She doesn’t notice right away that Rechenka has left one last painted egg in her basket. This one is different, though. There’s a little gosling inside to keep Babushka company. Lovely!
The pictures are beautiful and the story is just perfect, I think, for spring and the spirit of rebirth. I always get teary at the end of this one, but that’s largely because I’m a sap. I sometimes wonder if Babushka felt guilty for claiming those painted eggs as her own at the festival in Moskva, but I guess we’ll just let that slide. Also, as a side note, we bought two goose eggs the other day. Babushka eats one for breakfast every day, I thought, maybe she knows something we don’t. Ugh, they were horribly rich and heavy. But Rechenka’s Eggs endures. ABZ