Book Discussion Guide

The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci

The award-winning storyteller, Robert San Souci, and celebrated artist, Jerry Pinkney, retell an old Creole folktale from the American South in The Talking Eggs. Rose and Blanche are two sisters that could not be more different. Blanche is kind and giving, while Rose is like her mean-spirited mother. An odd old woman befriends Blanche and rewards her generous nature with magical eggs that bring her good things. Rose demands the same but receives a different reward. 4th grade students can easily follow the line of this story, but will benefit from a shared family reading to understand the figurative and colloquial language that make this story so rich. Families will enjoy this story that was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 1989.

Questions To Talk About
While Reading


It's important to make sure that your child has an understanding of key words in the book. Talking about words while reading is a great way for your child to learn new words.

In this book, you might talk about these words:

  • looked like the tail end of bad luck (pg. 2)
  • didn't know beans from birds' eggs (pg. 2)
  • sharp as forty crickets (pg. 2)
  • lit into me (pg. 8)
  • fetched (pg. 12)
  • kindling (pg. 12)
  • sad (pg. 12)
  • gawked (pg. 20)
  • contrary (pg. 20)
  • drag-foot (pg. 21)

You might use a question like:

In the book, what does the word contrary mean? Where might you use the word in conversations?

Key Ideas and Themes

In addition to words, it's important to talk about key ideas and themes and how they develop over the course of the book.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • 1

    After discussing the figurative language found in the beginning, focus on how these words enhance the story. How would the story be different if it were told in a more direct manner? How is this connected to the history of the story found in the introduction?

  • 2

    Reread some of the dialogue with your child to illustrate how the author spells and punctuates words to reflect the dialect of the American South. Help your child practice reading these words and phrases fluently.

  • 3

    What elements of this story are fantasy? Talk about each one. What words does San Souci use to impart these fantastical scenes?

  • 4

    Why do you think this story would include something as shocking as a woman removing her head? Talk about how this relates to the folktale genre.

  • 5

    The mother tells Rose to go to the woods and get herself some talking eggs, and then she will get rid of Blanche. Afterwards she says, “Then we’ll go to the city and be fine ladies like we was meant to be.” Talk about what she means by this statement. What do the words “meant to be” mean? To what are they referring?

  • 6

    It is common for a folktale to teach a life lesson. Talk about what lesson or lessons are being taught through this story. Support these ideas with details from the book.

Extra Activities

  • 1

    Enjoy reading other tales from the American South and explore the language and dialect of the American South. Practice using the phrases as a family.

  • 2

    Robert San Souci has also written a series of books that are collections of ghost stories called Dare to be Scared. Read a few and develop your own ghost stories.