The Donkey Egg – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Back when my son was a toddler, we read THE GREAT FUZZ FRENZY, a story about a golden retriever who drops a ball down a prairie dog hole. Oh my, that was a favorite in our house for years. And now, another book by the Stevens sisters has landed on my desk.

Illustrations/text ⓒ Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

First a look at the starring cast:

Illustrations/text ⓒ Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

You can see the type of humor we’re in for: the blanket has a checkered past.

At the start of the story, bear is snoozing away, but that sly fox stands just within view on the horizon.


Illustrations/text ⓒ Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

That fox is up to no good.

Illustrations/text ⓒ Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

Fox tells bear he’s got just the thing that he needs to make his wretched farm “mighty fine.”

“What thing?” growls bear.

Illustrations/text ⓒ Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

Why a donkey, of course. Trouble is, it hasn’t hatched yet.

I don’t think there’s a child alive who won’t want to see where this story goes.

Fox  explains that just like a bird on a nest, bear must keep that egg warm, safe, and happy. He cautions that it will take time for this donkey to hatch—

“minutes, hours, days, weeks, months—so be patient.”

Here is where the authors added a brilliant layer to this tale, a layer of nonfiction. Fox gives examples of animals that really do hatch from eggs. Along with the statement:

“And DONKEYS! It’s the truth!” 

As bear works to keep the egg warm, safe, and happy, the reader gets a lovely repetitive phrase:



Minutes passed. (hours, days, weeks)

No donkey.

AND the reader gets a lesson in time equivalencies, including how many seconds make a minute, minutes make hours, hours make days, and days make weeks. We learn time-based facts anywhere from the amount of time it takes to sneeze, to how long it takes an ice cream cone to melt in hot weather, to the time it takes a spider to spin a web, to the time it takes the human body to shed 7 million skin cells.

Plus one dubious fact about the number of times kids laugh in a day versus adults. But I’ll cut the authors some slack there. Kids will love the difference.

Now, while bear is busy with that egg, his buddy hare keeps racing by (in his bid to beat the tortoise), checking in to see how things are going. So when the egg finally rolls away from the exhausted, caretaking bear, hare plays a major role in the surprise at the end of that egg roll.

I must admit I laughed out loud.

But dontcha know, that ol’ bear ends up getting the best of fox. I won’t tell you how. You’ll have to read the book and see for yourself.


Using the timer on a cell phone or a watch, test how long it takes a scoop of ice cream to melt in the sun versus the shade. OR eat both before they melt. How long did that take? Repeat this experiment many times.

Buy a watermelon and eat it. Don’t try to make it hatch. No one wants to eat a rotten watermelon.

Plant different seeds in the garden or a pot. Watch to see how long they take to germinate. Do they all take the same amount of time? Do big seeds take longer? Does it depend on how thick the seed’s coating is? Or how wet and warm the soil is?

Title: The Donkey Egg

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Janet Stevens + Susan Stevens Crummel

Publisher: Houghton, 2019

Ages: Preschool to 3rd grade

Themes: Time, eggs, tricksters

For more recommendations for perfect picture books, visit Susanna Hill’s blog



18 thoughts on “The Donkey Egg – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Sarah Tobias says:

    This look hysterical! Can’t wait to pick it up from my library. Always love the Steven’s stories and illustrations.

  2. Maria Marshall says:

    This book does indeed look hysterical. I can’t wait to discover that “mysterious,” not to be shared, ending. Guilting never (rarely works), should have tried Chocolate! Thanks Jilanne!

  3. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I can’t wait to read this – I love trickster stories. And what better than pretending a watermelon is a donkey egg! Thanks for sharing the story and your activities.

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