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Mr Alex's bookshelf
When I reviewed the book with my child, I found that he was particularly drawn to precisely what Van Hout wanted him to count. It’s like she has a sense of precisely what to highlight in the picture, steering the child towards counting what is representative of the number in the double page spread. This is no small feat, as anyone with a child will tell you, from the moment they start to breathe, they have a mind of their own.
Yet, when Van Hout wanted my child to count wings, he counted wings; when she wanted him to count arms, he counted arms. There is a lot to be said for good art. And, he wants to go back to the book again and again.
Simplicity plus spirited art equals a counting book that you can count on.
Count different number sets on boldly drawn and vibrantly colored animals.
Open this Dutch import and marvel at the rich, saturated background colors and the grinning, oversized animals. Naively portrayed creatures made from splotches and scribbles of paint, chalk, and pastels invite readers to count their body parts or patterned designs, such as the mottled black “7 stripes” decorating a green-and-teal fish. All the deeply textured animals have a childlike glee about them, especially due to the high-contrast smudges of primary color and the way that they invitingly catch readers’ eyes with their own wide eyes. The veteran illustrator guides toddlers’ fingers to the countable parts by rendering them overlarge (“1” rotund red “belly” on a friendly bear), by contrasting them against the background (a bug’s “6 legs,” starkly white against midnight black), or by adding highlights (green dots on a monkey’s fingers, which beg to be touched as they’re counted). Don’t skip the backmatter on this one, as the clear and accessible instructions, ideas, and vocabulary offer caregivers easy ways to engage children in their own counting adventures within the book and beyond. The book’s neat, square trim size and padded cover are ideal for sharing with lap readers.