American English, as a language, has much to answer for, not least being irregular plural nouns—foot, feet; mouse, mice; goose, geese—but this cut-above counting book explicates them by wedding the numbers two to ten to plurals while the number one introduces the singular of each.
It is a clever conception—akin to the work of Laura Vaccaro Seeger—and executed with an elegant design. A die-cut window displays one of the group that will be discovered on the subsequent page: one snowman, five snowmen; one die, six dice; one ox, seven oxen. In each group illustration, the appropriate numeral is worked into the art (a coal-button 5 on the front of one of the snowmen; an 8-ball tattoo on one of the octopi). The illustrations are as deceptively simple as Thomas the Tank Engine and as elemental in their engagement. Maloney and Zekauskas add little touches—a small plane scooting by on each page, amusing asides within the artwork, a cumulative gathering of what went before on the verso of the die-cut page that serve as a reminder of the progression of numbers—to further beguile young readers.
A classy, well-turned piece of work. (Picture book. 3-5)