A book bound in a box, with layered die-cut board pages within, introduces a variety of animals for young children to practice counting.
A cheerful, begging dog peeks through a cutout on the extra-thick cover and provides a tactile surprise on the first page. Each successively larger die-cut page has a layered half-circle tab to make page turning easy for little fingers. A spotted pup is delightfully out of place on each page, from two kangaroos to nine fish. Older toddlers (or their parents, who will be asked to count the same animals again and again) can make a game out of finding the dog in unexpected places: in the kangaroo's pouch, on a lily pad, swimming underwater, or hanging improbably upside down with seven bats. (Perhaps that is why the dogs look so cheerful on the first and last spreads but slightly pained on the counting pages.) There is a fair amount of subtlety at work. Each dog is slightly different from the others, with its collar color matched to the animals on whose page it appears. The sturdy format and extra reinforcement afforded by the box that contains the tabbed pages will help this book hold up to rough handling by babies as they become book-toting toddlers.
A sense of fun, clear, uncluttered design, and construction that should hold up to heavy use make this board book's relatively high price well worth the extra expense. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)