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A Counting Book

by Selina Alko ; illustrated by Selina Alko

Pub Date: June 16th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-250-16381-3
Publisher: Henry Holt

Readers count to 10 and back down again as they follow an elementary-age student through a typical school day.

“ONE backpack. / TWO teachers” sees the child (who has brown skin and hair in one long, brown braid) arriving, apple in hand. Smaller text in the illustrations directs readers toward other objects to count: “1 globe,” “2 pencils.” The kids listen to their teachers, explore the classroom, play with blocks. Then “TEN chickpeas line up” for snack, each child standing under their own charming, realistically childlike self-portrait. The diverse class includes a range of skin colors and hairstyles, a child who uses a wheelchair (and sits on the floor without it at times), one with hearing aids and an assistive listening device, one wearing glasses, and one in hijab. One teacher has brown skin and puffy brown hair; the other teacher presents Asian. Recess, rest time, more learning, and yoga poses round out the day. Fascinating textures and colors, often supplied by collaged-in bits of found paper (such as ticket stubs and old-fashioned date due cards) fill the pages, inviting readers to look closely. Most of the items are easy to find and count. The characters are rendered in a naïve, folk-art style with two-dimensional stiffness, and one child’s missing front tooth is almost distractingly conspicuous. The final, titular message comes on the penultimate page and is posted on the wall along with a banner saying, “We are ONE community.” Backmatter includes the numbers from 11 to 20, with items to count for each.

Skills practice and a peek at the school day: a solid way to prepare.

(Picture book. 3-6)