Venezuelan artist Cáceres draws her inspiration from the depictions of animals featured in hand-woven baskets created by the Ye’kuana people of southern Venezuela.
The numbers one to 10 are represented by small, simplified depictions of animals found in this region; they are crafted so as to look as though they are woven, with a pixelated effect. The text consists only of the numbers, the corresponding numerals, and the name of the animal or animals depicted. The illustrations are attractive and clean, printed on soft brown and bright-colored backgrounds. However if the animals were not labeled, it is unlikely many readers would have any idea what they represent, and some of them nevertheless fail to convey anything recognizable outside this culture. The snake, arranged in right angles instead of sinuous curves, for instance, looks far more like a decorative border element than a snake and would be hard to interpret even for adults. The concept of animal designs woven in baskets created by Indigenous artists could be interesting in context, but when isolated from the medium in which they were created, they make little visual sense. Two illustrations include images in multiple orientations, which would be impossible to weave; thus they lose the cultural tie as well as intelligibility. There are so many other warm and visually engaging counting books out there, including Cynthia Weill’s Count Me in (2012), which uses Mexican folk art, it is hard to imagine why a parent or caregiver would be drawn to this one. Backmatter includes further information on Ye’kuana baskets and culture.
Form has not followed function in this counting book. (Picture book. 2-4)