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ZERO IS THE LEAVES ON THE TREE by Betsy Franco Kirkus Star


by Betsy Franco and illustrated by Shino Arihara

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-582-46249-3
Publisher: Tricycle

Inspired poetry and moving illustrations give zero, an abstract number that quantifies nothing, soulful meaning. Franco’s meditative poetry challenges readers to consider zero a representative of things to come or just departed: the ripples in a pool before a swimmer leaps, the leaves on the branches of a bare winter tree. She grounds almost Buddhist ponderings with assuring, concrete final lines on opposing pages. These simple numerical statements (0 leaves, 0 ducks) give readers solid answers to the poetic equations. While some truly far-out lines such as, “Zero is... / the blossoms in the garden / just before the buds open,” might boggle the minds of early readers, Arihana’s warm illustrations and soft washes of color offer explanation. Atmospheric gouache paintings with slim foregrounds allow ample room for expansive skies, hills, ocean and stars. Hopeful, upward-looking perspectives—a little girl gazes up at a high nest, kids catch balls in the air, a group stargazes—conjure such dreamy openness that zero seems full of promise rather than absence. This original introduction to an often-overlooked number will convince children that nothing is really something! (Picture book. 4-8)