Author's Note for The Talking Eggs by Robert San Souci
I'd like to mention one of my books that always seems particularly popular during the spring: The Talking Eggs: A Folktale From the American South, with beautiful watercolor illustrations by Jerry Pinkney. It tells the tale of a mother and two daughters who live on a small farm. The two sisters are as unlike as can be: Rose is spoiled, mean, and selfish; Blanche is wise, kind, and generous. In the course of the story, they both discover the magic talking eggs, which will reward the good sister and punish the wicked sister in ways that have delighted listeners and readers since the story was first told well over 100 years ago.
These wonderful eggs, with surprises inside them, seem to remind people of Easter eggs, which are both sweet and sometimes surprising when they are unwrapped, tasted, or even looked into, as in the case of the fancy sugar eggs that have a peephole so one can see an Easter scene inside.
All through time, countless people around the word have believed that eggs hold magical powers. Like plant seeds, eggs stand for the beginning of life, and have become the sign of life, birth, growing things, rich harvests, and good luck in general. For centuries the Chinese have celebrated spring's arrival by exchanging eggs dyed red, the color of happiness. Jewish tradition includes roasted and hardboiled eggs that are part of the Seder ceremony at Passover. For the Asante of Africa, an egg can mean many things, including a sign of peace. There are far too many peoples and beliefs about eggs to give more than these few examples.
But these ideas come down to many people today at Easter, when folks exchange gifts of dyed or candy eggs, hold Easter-egg hunts, and so on. Underneath the bright colors and sweetness, these eggs remind us of the healing power of life, the belief that the earth will continue to provide us with what we need to live, and the hope that spring will always return to melt away the winter. In somewhat the same way, the sisters in The Talking Eggs learn very different lessons from the eggs, which prove small but powerful teachers of how one should — or shouldn't — live one's life.