An Easter egg is an intentional inside joke, hidden message or image, or secret feature of a work (often found in a computer program, video game, or DVD/Blu-ray Disc menu screen). The name is used to evoke the idea of a traditional Easter egg hunt.
I had never heard the term before last week, when Books Around The Table met for our monthly lunch and critique meeting.
I’ve put Easter Eggs into my illustrations before. In my first picture book – BUZZ, by Janet Wong – I included my eldest daughter’s birthday on one spread,
And both my daughters appear in the parade led by the main character at the end of Apple Pie 4th of July, also by Wong.
On a more somber note, many years ago I heard Maurice Sendak talk about his work for Dear Mili, a lesser known Grimm story about a young child’s journey during wartime. Sendak’s imagery for this book is full of visual clues of his thoughts and influences (perhaps Easter Egg isn’t an appropriate term in this case), including images of Jewish children in Nazi Europe during the Holocaust, the face of Mozart, references to Van Gogh, and many more that I can no longer remember. It is a masterwork, IMHO.
I believe Easter Eggs are common in picture books. Do you know of any? Have you hidden them in your own work? Do tell! It’s the perfect time of year for an Easter Egg hunt!