The Egg Tree

by Katherine Milhous

Other authorsKatherine Milhous (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1971

Call number



Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1971), Edition: later Printing, 32 pages


Katy's Easter morning discovery renews the tradition of the Easter egg tree.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Treeseed
First published in 1950 and awarded The Caldecott Medal in 1951, The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous, is a delightful picture book, history lesson and celebration of springtime that I think you'll love sharing with your children.

This short, uncomplicated picture book features the farm traditions and
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holiday folk art of the Spring/Easter season as practiced by the Pennsylvania Dutch people in the early 1930s-1950s. The traditions date much further back to Germany, the country of origin of the Pennsylvania Dutch. These people were the original German immigrants in Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War. Familiar symbols of Easter/Spring such as eggs and rabbits or hares have been used to celebrate the Spring Equinox since 1500s in Germany.

The book describes the excitement of Katy and Carl, two Pennsylvania Dutch children who are old enough to participate for the first time in the children's Easter Egg Hunt. They know that the Easter Rabbit will bring colored eggs and hide them for all the good boys and girls. Katy sprinkles flower petals across the lawn to attract the Easter Bunny. They enjoy special Easter treats that Grandmom bakes for them and they have a wonderful time racing around with the other children on the day of the big hunt. At first Katy is a bit disappointed because as the youngest she is having trouble finding very many eggs.

"Who would think that the Rabbit had left eggs in the feed bin, in the watering trough, and even up in the hayloft?"

It's no easier for Katy in the garden or in the kitchen. The cousins are piling up the eggs but Katy is coming up empty-handed...until she decides to look up in the attic. There she finds a clutch of the most beautiful eggs she has ever seen.

The eggs turn out to be some beautiful hand-painted, fragile eggs that Grandmom had blown and decorated herself when she was just a girl. Long forgotten the eggs seem to have been left just for Katy by the Easter Rabbit but Grandmom tells the children the history of the eggs and explains the symbols that are painted on them. She also teaches them how to make their own. The boys are taught the art of "scratching" their designs on the eggshells while the girls learn first to dye the eggs and then to hand paint designs on them. Grandmom goes outside and cuts a small tree and brings it in. She hangs the painted eggs and puts other Easter symbols underneath the little tree.

"It is such a beautiful tree!" said Katy. "I wish that everyone in the world could see it!"

"Yes," said Grandmom. "It makes a body feel as if Spring has come right into the house. We must give a party for it."

Friends and relatives are invited over to see the tree and this leads to the tradition of the Egg Tree that keeps growing bigger and better every Easter/Spring to come.

The writing is evocative and easy for children to follow. It is a suitable story for children from 4-9 years of age but if you make the book a part of your annual Spring celebration as we do in our home even older children will want to hear its familiar tale each year. Last year when it was taken out for my 5 year old granddaughter Gigi who was inspired by it, I noticed my 34 year old son just happened to have some pressing business in the kitchen in ear-shot of our storytime. I think this is a book that definitely pulls on the heartstrings and has the rosy glow of sentimental tradition. "Are we, I mean, is Gigi making an Egg Tree this year, Mom?"

The illustrations are mostly single full-page with a few partial and a few double-page spreads. There is most often one page of text to one page of illustration. So many visually-cued sentences move the story forward that even though it is agrarian, old-time action it easily holds the attention of children.

I also like this book very much for how it cleverly inserts information about Pennsylvania Dutch traditions into the action of the story rather than describing these things in a how-to format. The decorations on the bottoms of the pages are actual folk art patterns passed down by the hand of tradition. The illustrations are all done in the manner of Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs and all of the ones in this book use simple pastel colors of peach, yellow, white, green and a slate blue. Grandmom's old-fashioned heirloom eggs feature the designs called The Bright and Morning Star, The Deer On the Mountain, The Cooing Dove, The Pomegranate and The Horn-blowing Rooster and several others. A traditional cookie rabbit sometimes called a Rabbit Cake is shown in the story. Lots of details from a working farm of that era are shown and the characters all dress in the traditional style which looks similar to what you would see today in Amish country.

I think this is a beautiful book and I love the arts and crafts it suggests. I love the Spring fertility and hopeful promise traditions and iconography it highlights. This is a book that is perfect for this time of year regardless of one's particular religious beliefs because what it really celebrates is Spring and renewal and the joys associated with those concepts.

I think it succeeds beautifully as a children's book due to its excellence in art, story fun and story learning. I recommend it highly but I think that materialistic present day Easter holiday trends might make the simpler times and practices depicted here seem, for a modern child, a tad dull by comparison. We've kept the old ways alive in my family so we do consistently love this book, generation after generation. The back of the book jacket has simple directions for making an Egg Tree and there are numerous tips within the story for the other Easter/Spring crafts. I do suspect that the innocent heart of childhood will embrace it now as much as ever if given half a chance.
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LibraryThing member Sclarke23
This book is abouta little boy named Carl and a little girl named Katy. They were at their grandmother's house for Easter. During the easter egg hunt katy found the best set of eggs in her grandma's attic which her grandma had painted hen she was little girl.I really didn't care for this book
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because it somewhat bored me.I i had to create an assignment i will have my students make and decorate their own easter eggs to take home.
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LibraryThing member caltstatt
Young children wait on Easter morning for the Easter rabbit to bring the Easter eggs. When they see the rabbit, they run to find all the eggs. Little Katy doesn't find any eggs until the very last, but they are beautiful. Then the grandmother brings in a small tree to hang the pretty eggs on. The
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children decide to make more pretty eggs and hang them on a bigger tree and then the next year they decorate an enormous tree. Many people came to see the tree and the grandmother said it felt like Spring had come into the house.

This would be a cute story to read at Easter to small children and let them decide how they would decorate a pretty egg.
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LibraryThing member dangerlibearian
Super long, Easter book-making Russian eggs for an egg tree.
LibraryThing member elpowers
Cute story about an Easter egg hunt, the Easter bunny and the egg tree. A very sweet and simple straightforward story.
LibraryThing member lmhudson
The Egg Tree tell the story of a families Easter traditions. When one of the Characters finds a Faberge egg it starts a new tradition of creating Faberge eggs and decorating a tree.
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
Milhous tells a story of a long ago Easter, when the children spend time at their grandparents’ Pennsylvania farm. Along with their cousins Katy and Carl hunt for Easter eggs, but Katy isn’t having much luck, until she heads for the attic and finds a treasure trove of beautifully decorated eggs
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in a hatbox.

This was a delightful story that tells of a long-time family tradition. I like how the children become interested and then eager to participate in this tradition that had fallen by the wayside. The book shows the family working together to decorate the eggs, and even bringing in other people from the area.

I was somewhat disappointed in the illustrations. Given the topic, and knowing that Milhous won the Caldecott Medal for this book, I was expecting more vibrant coloring. Instead, she uses a rather muted palette. Still, I do like the expressions on the faces of the people (adults and children, alike), as well as the detailed drawings of some of the traditional egg designs.
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LibraryThing member KristenRoper
Four children hunt for eggs on Easter Sunday on their grandmom's homestead. When Katy finds beautifully painted eggs in the attic, Grandmom shows everyone how to make an egg tree. They repeat this tradition the next year, and it brings joy to the whole community.
LibraryThing member KristenRoper
Four children hunt for eggs on Easter Sunday on their grandmom's homestead. When Katy finds beautifully painted eggs in the attic, Grandmom shows everyone how to make an egg tree. They repeat this tradition the next year, and it brings joy to the whole community.




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