Sam’s got a mess, but he knows how to have fun cleaning it up: sorting it!
Brown-skinned Sam stands in front of his “heap” of toys, an exuberantly colorful pile that stands out against the muted, neutral backgrounds in Jocelyn’s collage illustrations. “First he finds Obo the robot, one of a kind. Then two snarling dinosaurs, three little boxes, and four fake foods. How many things is that?” From this simple opening, Jocelyn takes Sam and readers through many permutations of organizational possibilities for his stuff: rocks, round things, things that come in twos; things that are striped; things that are soft or fuzzy or smelly; and so on. Each double-page spread offers at least one sorting possibility and myriad opportunities for involvement. Items that rhyme are paired visually but not textually, inviting readers to vocalize “cat” and “bat,” “fox” and “box.” The homely hodgepodge of media—photographs, spare drawings, intricate paper-collage—combines with open-ended questions (“What else floats?”) to practically beg readers to look outside the book for examples from their own lives to add to Sam’s categories or start their own. Layouts are varied and inventive; early on, baker’s twine makes an elegant Venn diagram, and later, a Pac-Man maze includes both “things Sam bites” and “some things [that] bite Sam.”
A deceptively simple, joyous introduction to set theory, with lots of other concept practice as a bonus. (Picture book. 3-5)