Brain Pickings

Eggs of Things: Anne Sexton and Maxine Cumin’s Science-Inspired 1963 Children’s Book


“These are all eggs of things. They will be our secret.”

Given my soft spot for lesser-known vintage children’s books by famous literary icons — most recently, Mark Twain’s wonderful Advice to Little Girl and Sylvia Plath’s The Bed Book and The It Doesn’t Mater Suit — I was thrilled to track down a surviving copy of Eggs of Things (public library), a 1963 out-of-print gem by beloved poet and academic trouble-maker Anne Sexton, co-written with Library of Congress poetry consultant Maxine Kumin and illustrated by Leonard Shortall.

It tells the story of an inventive foursome — Skippy, Buzz, Skippy’s younger sister nicknamed Pest (as proper brothers and sisters tend to do), and their dog Cowboy — who hatch the idea of saving their neighborhood vegetable garden from cutworms by fishing out some toad eggs from the nearby pond, incubating them in their tub, then releasing the toads into the garden to take care of the worms.

Eggs of Things was followed by More Eggs of Things in 1964, also sadly out-of-print but available in some public libraries.

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