Last One in Is a Rotten Egg!

Written and illustrated by Diane deGroat
HarperCollins 2007
ISBN 0060892943
Ages 4 - 8

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Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year 2008

Gilbert and Lola are excited. Their cousin Wally is coming for a visit - just in time for the Easter egg hunt! But they soon learn how competitive Wally has become. He has to eat the fastest, be first on line, and find the most eggs, no matter who gets hurt. How can Gilbert deal with such relentless rivalry? In this humorous and encouraging story by Diane deGroat, Gilbert - everyone's favorite opossum - teaches Wally who the rotten egg really is!

From School Library Journal In this 10th book about Gilbert, the young opossum and his sister are excited about their cousin's visit. They soon realize, however, that having Wally around isn't as much fun as they had imagined. He is so competitive that he turns everything into a contest. "Last one in is a rotten egg" is his favorite phrase, which he yells while running to beat the others at whatever activity is taking place, even getting to the lunch table first. The children attend an Easter egg hunt and Wally fills his basket quickly while Gilbert takes the time to help his little sister search for eggs. Lola spots the golden egg, which signifies a prize, but neither she nor Gilbert can reach it high in a tree. Wally takes it from its perch but instead of giving it to Lola, keeps it for himself. In the end, Lola wins her prize, Wally learns to share, and the three become friends. Pastel, cartoon-style watercolor illustrations depict the activities while revealing the small town's populace made up of raccoons, porcupines, rabbits, cats, and dogs. Children will relate to the story, which imparts a gentle lesson on how to be a friend.

From Kirkus Reviews Having been the principal in ten heartening, gently didactic books from deGroat, Gilbert is a familiar face by now: He's the one who looks like Albert Einstein, had Einstein been a young opossum. Gilbert has learned to deal with bullies and the dark, with fibbing and smelly feet, and here he must contend with his hyper-competitive cousin, Wally. An Easter egg hunt is the perfect venue for him to flex his rivalrous muscles, but Wally is not content simply to vie with his cousins to find more eggs; he gets cutthroat about it, even nasty if it means gaining the coveted golden egg. Gilbert exploits Wally's reckless need to always be first to deliver him his comeuppance. Gilbert is not only finding his way in the world, he's doing a bit of teaching as well. DeGroat's artwork and story have a benign, empathetic cast to them, so the moral eases into the proceedings without becoming heavy handed.