With faultless simplicity Horácek squires viewers from the titular giraffe, “[t]wo striped zebras” and “[t]hree speedy cheetahs” up to “[t]en swimming fish.”
Still channeling Eric Carle, the illustrator creates big, friendly-looking, harmoniously posed animal figures sporting luminous blends of brushed pattern and hue. He positions them against plain white backgrounds or pale color fields, gazing up to make eye contact with viewers. There’s a pleasing variety to the coloration of his subjects that helps to create an additional visual rhythm, the one- or two-color animals giving way to four different, bright types of snakes, toucans in a lush rain forest and a school of brilliant tropical fish. All are more or less realistically colored, except for the cheekily psychedelic chameleons. As the animal assemblages grow, their members either form sinuous visual patterns for eyes to trace or easily parsed groupings: one, two and two sets of three for “[n]ine leaping lemurs,” for instance. Furthermore, adding a graceful visual surprise to each spread, a side flap bearing the appropriate numeral lifts to reveal a second, pop-up version artfully crafted from the featured creature.
A real pleaser for the diapered brigade: bright but not busy, unfussily interactive, predictable but never monotonously so. (Pop-up/counting picture book. 1-3)