An imagination stretcher disguised as a 1-10 counting book.
From “0 for the way an egg stands” to “10 for a student’s thoughts / lost in daydreams,” the quantity or shape of each number suggests a scenario to Luján. These are often literary, as in “2 for the duckling who is not so ugly after all” and “6 for musketeers alongside their reflection.” Isol, an Argentine illustrator and winner of the 2013 Astrid Lincoln Memorial Award, clarifies some of the associations (that student, for instance, is watching flying bugs tracing the number’s shape) while also reflecting the Mexican author’s free-wheeling approach. Her illustrations feature very loose brushwork and quickly sketched figures suspended in pale expanses of monochrome or low-contrast color fields. While she does present an appropriate number of objects to count in each illustration, the emphasis is on appreciation of the surreal rather than building skills. “8 for sand counting out the hours” features one boy digging in the sand in the top half of an hourglass, while below, another boy holds up an umbrella against the falling grains; eight turtles swim, almost as an afterthought, across the facing page. The overall atmosphere is, properly, one of mild abstraction.
A whimsical invitation for children to become likewise “lost in daydreams.” (Picture book. 6-9)