Gorgeous, lush illustrations strengthen a somewhat loosely connected story.
Abigail is a giraffe who loves to count. She tries to count the spots on a ladybug, the stripes on a zebra and the splotches on a cheetah. But no one will stay still long enough. Then Ladybug suggests counting a field of flowers, and Zebra and Cheetah offer their help. Abigail finds that her friends are “not very good at counting,” so she spends the day teaching them. By the time they get the hang of it, though, darkness has fallen. But all is not in vain. With a dramatic vertical gatefold, Abigail shows them the stars to count. Rayner’s sumptuous watercolors both realistically portray the animals (managing to make Abigail endearing as well) and give readers a sense of the evocative atmosphere of the African savanna. Where the book weakens is in its page design and ending. Three double-page spreads, leading readers’ eyes backward instead of forward have the unwanted consequence of stalling the page-turns in an already haltingly paced story. The ending, when it arrives, is lackluster and leaves readers with little of the sense of the grandeur the illustrations evoke.
A richly illustrated story that could benefit from better page design and crisper storytelling. (Picture book. 3-7)