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by Greg Tang & illustrated by Taia Morley

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-439-78351-4
Publisher: Scholastic

Anything but a one-trick pony, Tang offers not only math concepts in his latest collection of verse, but natural history, challenging vocabulary, wordplay and wisdom to boot. Going from one (male, pregnant) seahorse to ten seagulls, animals in each poem combine and recombine in different groupings to, usually, hunt—“1 bat flew off into the sky / to hear what he could find. / 6 others followed after him / a flap or two behind”—using natural attributes and, in several cases, tools, too. In Morley’s brightly colored, artfully composed natural scenes, the animals are accurately rendered and their groups clearly differentiated; even younger children will have no trouble counting them and seeing how they add together. That the poems also have titles like “The Sound and the Furry,” use words like “camouflaged” and end, as fables should, in Lessons (“All 6 were feeling quite content / with food enough for each. / They know that aiming high in life / leaves nothing out of reach!”) adds enough nuance and content to reward any number of subsequent re-readings. A seamless blend of pleasure and purpose sandwiched between an introduction for adults and a closing page of recapitulated science facts. (Nonfiction poetry. 4-7)