[author chat + giveaway] Patricia Toht on Pick a Perfect Egg

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the season of blossoms, bunnies, chicks and eggs than by talking to Patricia Toht about her brand new picture book, Pick a Perfect Egg (Candlewick, 2023).

This third title in the wonderful series that includes Pick a Pine Tree and Pick a Pumpkin is once again beautifully illustrated by British artist Jarvis, and is, in many ways, a perfect book. 

Pitch perfect rhyming text? Check. Lively, inventive, never predictable rhymes frolic and sing as the narrative hums along. An absolute joy to read aloud. 

Illustrations that perfectly detail each story beat while capturing all the joys of the season? Check. Gorgeous colors and textures showcase spring loveliness, while an endearing main character positively sparkles as she picks, dyes, decorates, and hunts for eggs with neighborhood friends. And her adorable dog is always smiling. So much fun!

Pick a perfect egg
with care --
choose a white one
nestled there.

From farm fresh egg to Easter egg, this story is eggsactly what the Easter Bunny ordered. Sure to be a perennial favorite, it’s proof positive that when it comes to authors and illustrators, Toht and Jarvis are perfectly paired. 🙂

Welcome back, Patricia!!


Author Patricia Toht

Please share a fond Easter egg memory from your childhood. How did you like to decorate your eggs? 

I grew up in a big family, so we had lots of coloring going on! My parents would spread a big drop cloth on our long table, and line it with mugs. I loved the fizzing tablets that dissolved in water to reveal their colors, and the smell of vinegar that was added to set the color. 

The “Easter Bunny” hid the colored eggs around the house, along with plastic eggs…until the year the dog ate all of the hard-boiled eggs, and we woke up Easter morning to find a very vomit-y dog! 

Childhood pic of Patricia (left front) with her family.

What kind of Easter candy did you like most back then? How about now? 

I was never a huge fan of jelly beans, which was a standard in our baskets. But what I adored were bakery store cookies that were tucked in the fake grass – shortbread rounds with dollops of colored frosting or multi-colored sprinkles. Yum! They would still be my Easter preference, if the bakery hadn’t closed its doors years ago.

Patricia enjoyed the beautiful eggs at the Vienna Easter Market when she lived overseas.

Describe an especially memorable Easter egg decorating session or hunt with your own kids (or grandkids). Did you take them to an egg farm?

Being suburbanites, our eggs came from the grocery store!

I have a seven-year gap between my sets of kids. When my older ones were old enough to help hide eggs, they had a blast trying to figure out the most clever hiding places. Lightbulbs were removed to accommodate eggs; they were balanced on top of doors and even “hidden” in the egg tray in the fridge. One year, my brother-in-law joined us and decided the space between the curtain rod and the window casement was just large enough to squeeze in some plastic eggs. About 10 minutes later, we heard them pop open and a waterfall of jelly beans rained down.

(We had to eventually write of list of hiding places because they were hidden so well, we couldn’t find them the next morning!)

Patricia’s granddaughter Vivian
They’ve been experimenting with natural dyes for their eggs.
Ta da!

What other Easter or springtime traditions do you most look forward to every year?

I love springtime walks in the nearby arboretum. The spring peepers are usually out and raising a ruckus. The flowering trees smell so good. And their huge glade of daffodils is like a burst of sunshine. 

(One tradition I despise? Spring cleaning!)

Patricia’s niece in the daffodil glade at the Morton Arboretum.

I’m in awe (once again) of your pitch perfect rhyming text. What did you like best about writing this book? Were there any particular challenges you faced that didn’t arise with the other two ‘Pick a . . .’ books? 

Thank you, Jama! I love to rhyme!

Each subsequent “Pick a” book was a little easier to write than the one before it, because I already knew the pattern I wanted to follow. One challenge was the request from my editor to begin the book outside on a farm. We’d never raised chickens or picked eggs directly from a nest, so I had to do a little research! A local farm let me poke around their chicken coop and ask a lot of questions. The research only translated into a few lines in the book, but I wanted that section to be authentic.

From an illustration standpoint, this is my favorite book in the series. Describe your reaction to seeing Jarvis’s finished artwork. What do you love most about how he interpreted your story?

Jarvis is an amazing illustrator! As always, when I saw his finished artwork, I burst out in tears. The magic that happens between words and art is so moving to me.

I adore the color palette for this book. The other “Pick a” book illustrations use darker colors and have strong contrast. The egg book is filled with warm, soft pastels. The front cover with its nest-y swirl pulls me right in!

Which is your favorite illustration and why?

The cover is a favorite. So is the spread of the two children making the “multicolored mound” of eggs. The kids’ expressions convey that magic and pride of seeing the decorated eggs. And the little egg chick, right up front by the basket’s bow, makes me smile.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about Pick a Perfect Egg?

This book arrived shortly after our second grandchild, so it’s dedicated to our sweet Teagan.

What’s next for you?

Due to some Covid delays, this is a three-book year for me! Together With You and Pick a Perfect Egg were both released on Valentine’s Day. Next is Taxi, Go! which releases in September. Inspired by the game “Red Light, Green Light,” it follows a taxi through a busy day of transporting customers. The illustrator is Maria Karipidou – her depiction of the taxi is so friendly and energetic.

Finally, please share a family egg recipe with a word or two about why it’s a favorite.

A traditional family recipe that we make every Easter is a coffee cake to start the morning. Three eggs, sour cream, and a cinnamon filling make it rich and delicious.

We call it “Merk’s Coffee Cake,” although no one’s really sure why! One of my cousins believes there may have been a bakery in Chicago that made it or supplied the recipe. However the recipe came to us, thank you Merk!

Merk's Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 pt. sour cream
  • Topping
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped nuts


For cake batter, mix butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly. Add eggs, singly, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with sour cream, and blending after each addition. Use a pastry cutter to mix topping ingredients until large crumbs form.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10″ tube pan (angel food cake pan). Spread half of the batter in the bottom of the pan. Using half of the topping mixture, place dollops on the cake batter. Spoon on the rest of the cake batter and use a spoon or spatula to gently spread. Dot with the remaining topping mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then remove tube section from outer section of pan. Cool completely, and then lift cake off tube.

~ from Patricia Toht, author of Pick a Perfect Egg (Candlewick, 2023), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.


written by Patricia Toht
illustrated by Jarvis
published by Candlewick Press, February 2023
Picture Book for ages 3-5, 40 pp.

♥️ Read our other interviews with Patricia about the first two books in this series (both contain recipes):

🎄 Pick a Pine Tree

🎃 Pick a Pumpkin



The publisher is generously offering a brand new copy of Pick a Perfect Egg for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, March 22, 2023. You may also enter by sending an email with PERFECT EGG in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!


The lovely and talented Laura Purdie Salas is hosting the Roundup at Small Reads for Brighter Days. Breeze on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Happy St. Paddy’s Day and Happy Weekend!

*Interior spreads text copyright © 2023 Patricia Toht, illustrations © 2023 Jarvis, published by Candlewick Press. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2023 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

25 thoughts on “[author chat + giveaway] Patricia Toht on Pick a Perfect Egg

  1. Yum! I love a good coffee cake. And, I love seeing an author just delighted with their work when it’s illustrated. Today’s visit is a treat. Thank you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Easter. It’s my favorite holiday for several reasons. Of course the religious part of the day comes first. Secondly, I was born on Easter Sunday, so each year my mom would buy me a stuffed rabbit to celebrate Easter and my birthday. This book is so special with its pastel colors ushering in the spring season. One of my family traditions was to make a special Italian calzone full of salami and cheese and eggs called pizza rustica! Another was to visit the local bakery to purchase Easter bread, a braided cake with several colorful eggs weaved into the bread! My mom cooked, but didn’t bake! Happy St Pat’s, and happy St Joseph Day on Sunday. My family will celebrate my husband’s birthday on the 19th with some wonderful St Joseph’s oasteries called zeppole and sfinge! Yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this interview! This book looks so well-done, like the earlier ones in the series! 🙂
    Very interesting to read about how the research you did influenced some of the text.
    Congratulations on all your successes! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m looking forward to this new egg-specially special title, Jama. We used to experiment with natural dyes, too, & using purple cabbage was a hit! Crayon resist dyeing was also a fun thing to do. Congratulations to Patricia & Jarvis for another beautiful book! I love the first illustration you shared with the sweet hen, “Pick a perfect egg/with care –“. Thanks for every bit!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, what a fascinating read about Patricia’s latest book. Your interview is as beautiful as your usual posts, with photographs, delightful writing, and a recipe! Merk’s Coffee Cake looks delicious.

    The illustrations by Jarvis are beautiful, and I like how you pointed out the “pitch perfect rhyming text.” That is such a valuable feature–one of my favorite things in a children’s book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Charming interview! Looks like a wonderful book.
    You do have to beware of egg-loving dogs 🙂 I like the look of her natural-dyed eggs. Usually mine turn out too pale.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jama, there are many favorites on your blog this week. Let’s start with the yummy pastel colors, the back story of Patricia’s story, and her yummy cake recipe. Congratulations to Patricia for her trio of new books and your wonderful interview.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, I was mesmerized by Patricia’s interview, and then your coffee cake stole my attention! Seriously, how have I not read Patricia’s Pick a books? I just put Pick a Pine Tree on reserve at the library. Can’t wait to read it. Her new ones look gorgeous, too. Congratulations, Patricia, and thanks, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for this spotlight and, of course, the coffee cake recipe! The description of the fizzy tabs and the smell of vinegar took me right back…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The book looks as delightful as this interview was! And I can relate to resorting to lists in order to remember where all the eggs were hidden. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a beautiful book to celebrate the most beautiful holiday! Easter eggs are so nostalgic. Even now, when I see a colored Easter egg I am transported back to my childhood and Easter Sunday with patent leather shoes, a picture hat, a fancy dress (with a crinoline), and most important of all—a new “pocketbook!”
    I also was touched by the author’s comment on the magic of seeing your words put into art. Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.