Ducks Away! By Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek (9781338185669)
A mother duck crosses a bridge with her ducklings, all five of them! But then one of the little ducks is blown off of the bridge and down into the water below. Mother Duck doesn’t know what to do with four ducklings on the bridge and one down in the water. Then one by one, the other little ducks tumble down to the water. Finally, all five are floating below and they encourage their mother to join them and take the jump herself. This playful counting book merrily counts up to five in a natural way, then counts both up and down as ducklings move from bridge to water. It all feels so much a part of the story thanks to the subtle rhyme structure and the rhythms deftly created by Fox. The illustrations continue the simplicity of the text, and are just right to share with a group or with one child. A picture book you can count on! Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Everybunny Count! By Ellie Sandall (9781534400146)
As the foxes and bunnies play together, they decide that today is the day for hide-and-seek. They count up to ten and then as they search, the counting begins again. They steadily count up to ten once more, giving young listeners objects to count on each page. When the bunnies finally find Fox, he has a surprise for them! One that will help them count all the way to ten again. Sandall’s picture book has a freshness and a lightness that is very welcome. The incorporation of so much counting in a single book adds to the fun as do the personalities of each of the animals. A counting delight. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Shake the Tree by Chiara Vignocchi, Paolo Chiarinotti and Silvia Borando (9780763694883)
This bright and active picture book is just right for sharing aloud. When Mouse discovers a nut high in a tree, she tries shaking the tree to get it to fall down to her. She shakes it a little to the left and right, but the nut doesn’t budge. A fox though falls down out of the tree and wants to eat the Mouse who scampers up into the tree’s branches. So the Fox shakes the tree, but the Mouse and the nut do not fall down, instead a Warthog comes down and Fox runs up the tree to escape. When Bear falls down next, he really shakes the tree a lot. All of the animals fall down to the ground along with the nut. What will Bear do now?
Shared aloud, the reader will be shaking the tree and the book back and forth. This book could so easily help with concepts of right and left, particularly if you made the story time interactive and the children helped “shake” the tree too. The book also has a clever way to incorporate counting with each animal adding a shake each time they try. It counts up without actually counting, making it a book that has a natural rhythm and appeal. The illustrations add to this with their bright colors and the large animals tumbling from the tree. Funny and a great read-aloud add this one to your next story time on trees or counting. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani (9781419723490, Amazon)
This simple counting picture book is full of feline fun. Starting with one sleeping cat, the book moves to two cats playing with yarn, then three cats stack together into a tower like the cover of the book demonstrates. Four and five cats make towers that threaten to tip. Six cats wisely split into two towers of three cats. Seven cats nap together and then eight cats try a very tall stack and tumble down. Nine cats form three stacks of three and ten cats are just too many. So then the subtraction starts and counting backwards begins.
This is simple counting presented in a humorous and clever way. The text has a great rhythm to it that weaves nicely into the counting itself. Small children will enjoy counting the cats and adults helping them can ask them to count the sleeping cats and point out the basics of multiplication and division shown clearly on the page.
The illustrations are bright and cheery, filled with teals and oranges that pop against one another. They have crisp graphic qualities and the cats themselves are entirely adorable as they play, snooze and stack on the pages.
A winning cat-filled counting book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.
Sam Sorts by Marthe Jocelyn (9781101918050)
All of Sam’s toys are in a heap on his floor. It’s time for him to clean up. He finds one unique toy, then two dinosaurs, and counts upwards. But there are other ways to sort toys into categories. Maybe by what they are made from or their shape. And then there are the toys that fall into both categories. Some of them rhyme with each other. Others have the same pattern on them. They can be every color in the rainbow or have qualities that make them similar like being fuzzy or smelly. Some float. Others fly. So many ways to sort!
Jocelyn has created a book that is all about the concept of sorting items into categories. Again and again, she shows that toys can be put into any number of categories. It’s all in how you look at them. The book also incorporates counting on some of its pages. It’s a book that is perfect for more conversations outside of the ones in the text. Questions of finding other toys that fit the new categories on the page, or even thinking of other categories that Sam hasn’t used yet. There’s plenty to be creative about here.
Jocelyn’s illustrations are done in cut paper collage. Some items have a lovely depth to them, created by shadows on the page. On another two pages, there are shadows on the wall that add to the fun. On other pages real objects appear with drawings of others. This is a vibrant visual feast where children will want to look closely at the items and talk about how they match or don’t match.
Have items on hand to sort to continue the conversations started with this creative look at sorting. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from e-galley received from NetGalley and Tundra Books.
One Lonely Fish by Andy Mansfield and Thomas Flintham
Released January 31, 2017.
One little lonely yellow fish swims in the ocean. But soon he is joined with one fish and then others, each following with their mouth wide open to eat the fish in front of them. Counting one to ten, the fish grow bigger and bigger. Eventually though, there is just one lonely fish on the page once again.
This simple board book has a great sense of humor. There is very little text to the book other than counting upwards, making it simple enough for very small children. The board construction is sturdy enough to make this work with toddlers. But be ready for the little ones to be very surprised and perhaps sad with the twist at the end. Still, the likelihood is giggles, not tears.
The illustrations are bright and colorful. There are two little red crabs on the bottom of all of the pages with the bright yellow sand who warn observant readers of the final twist a page ahead of time. The fish are a rainbow of colors and have a variety of patterns as well.
Energetic and colorful, you are sure to be hooked by this fishy picture book. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy received from Bloomsbury.
Is That Wise Pig? by Jan Thomas (InfoSoup)
Cow, Pig and Mouse are all making soup together. Mouse adds one onion, Cow adds two cabbages, but Pig tries to add three umbrellas! The other two ask Pig if that is wise. Then Mouse adds four tomatoes, Cow adds five potatoes, and Pig tries to add six galoshes. Is that wise? More ingredients go in and Pig even adds nine carrots! Then Pig reveals that she asked ten friends to join them, something that probably was not wise. Suddenly Pig’s galoshes and umbrellas make a lot of sense as the soup flies!
As always, Thomas completely understands the farcical humor that toddlers adore. Children will be so engaged in laughing at Pig’s ingredients that they won’t see the ending coming until the reveal. There is also a counting component to the book that is subtly done and the book feels much more like a story than one teaching numbers. Thomas’ illustrations will work well with a crowd, projecting easily even to those in the back thanks to their strong black lines and simple colors.
Expect lots of requests for seconds of this silly book. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.
Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier
Count from one to three and back down to one again in this funny picture book. Three cookies don’t split evenly between two mice, but then neither does only one pair of oars when they head out on the water. Three rocks in the water make two holes in their boat. Luckily there is one island with two trees, which actually are the feet of a giant bird. The two mice cry three tears as they are carried up to be food for three chicks. All it takes is one nest to make their one escape. Back home, the two mice make one soup out of the perfect number of ingredients.
Ruzzier’s counting book is a gem. He cleverly uses the counting as a solid foundation for this story, each moment led forward by the numbers. At the same time, this shows his immense skill as he is able to keep the book funny, warm and dynamic without it becoming too filled with sing-song or too weighted by the structure itself. The story is almost effortless as it reads aloud, each number leaping to the next with the story the focus too.
The art too is jaunty and fun. The bright colors are infused throughout the landscape with clouds and the water ranging from pinks to yellows to oranges. Everything is done in unusual colors except the two main characters who are distinct in their bright white.
A clever counting book, this will make a great pick for bedtime or beginning counters. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Chooky-Doodle-Doo by Jan Whiten, illustrated by Sinead Hanley (InfoSoup)
A fresh little counting book, this Australian import combines numbers with a jaunty rhyme. One little “chooky” chick is unable to pull a big worm out of the ground, so another chick tries to help. Three of them pull and pull then, and the worm just grows longer and longer. Eventually there are six chicks pulling and not able to get the worm out of the ground. Rooster joins them and helps to pull. They pull and pull, bracing themselves on the ground, until pop! The worm lets go and gives them all a big surprise.
Each page asks “What should chookies do?” and leads into the page turn where another chick has joined in helping. The next page then starts with the number of chicks pulling, making the counting element very clear for young readers. The text is simple and has a great rhythm to it. This picture book could easily be turned into a play for preschoolers to act out, since the actions are simple. The reveal at the end is very satisfying and make sure you look at the very final pages to see the smiling worm still happily in the dirt.
The illustrations are done in collage, both by hand and digital. The textures of the papers chosen for the collage offer a feeling of printmaking too, an organic style that works well with the subject matter. The chicks have huge eyes and are large on the page, making counting easy for the youngest listeners. The bright colors add to the appeal.
A great toddler read aloud for units on farms, this picture book will worm its way right into your heart. Appropriate for ages 2-3.
Reviewed from library copy.
One Family by George Shannon, illustrated by Blanca Gomez (InfoSoup)
A joyous look at how different families can be and how very happy people can be in small and large families. The book is a cheery mix of counting book and family size, moving from one person happily sharing her book with her cat to a very large family of ten with grandparents mixed in. The book celebrates diversity in families as well with people of different ethnic backgrounds and gay parents. This picture book will have every child seeing themselves on the page and able to relate, which is definitely something to be celebrated!
Shannon writes a great little poem that carries this book forward at a brisk and jaunty pace. Each verse looks at a larger family but begins with “One is…” and then the number of people in that family. The verse then goes on to show other objects and items that are that number but still a solid unit, like a bunch of bananas or a flock of birds. The message is one of being loved and included no matter the size of your family or who is part of it.
Gomez’s illustrations are lovely. She creates diversity with a sense of ease, rather than it being forced at all. It is a joy to see the final page where all of the families are in the same neighborhood and mingling outside, one big rainbow of people together. Her paper collage illustrations are friendly and filled with small touches that are worth lingering over. It’s those touches that make the book feel even more warm and the families all the more loving.
A great pick to celebrate the diversity in every community, this is a great pick to share aloud thanks to the clever rhyme and lovely illustrations. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey (InfoSoup)
This playful picture book comes from the author of The Underneath and other novels for older children. This counting book does not move from one to twelve, but instead starts at three and allows a merry amount of counting along the way. Throughout the action is led by the crows who climb around on trees, sit on lines and find all sorts of treats to eat, including spicy ants. The story moves forward with counting until there are twelve crows who then discover one cat!
Appelt proves that she can be a very successful writer for any age of child with her first picture book. Her rhyme reads aloud so well that it’s impossible to read it silently to yourself. It has a great rhythm and buoyancy to it, giving the book a really dynamic energy and feel. I also enjoy a book that has counting in it, but isn’t solely a counting book. This one tells a full story in a cheery way and allows you to share it either as a story book or a concept book.
The illustrations truly make the book unique. Using light drawings with touches of red, the book pops. Readers may notice the one scarf-wearing crow who appears in each scene and then they can see what happens to the scarf after the cat appears. It’s a nice touch that may have some readers turning back to trace the scarf from the beginning of the book.
Bouncy, rhyming, fun and jaunty, this picture book has its own unique tone and feel that readers will appreciate. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.