All kinds of animals are eagerly taking part in an Olympics-style athletic competition in this French import.
Numbers counting up from one to 20 and back down from 20 to one are shown, one Arabic numeral plus simple text on each page. Each animal is portrayed doing what they do best: The big cats jump over “3 hurdles” while running between “4 white lines”; the kangaroo does the high jump (landing on “5 crash mats”); the seals do gymnastics (using “7 rings”); and “8 monkeys” bounce on a trampoline. A bear lifts “9 weights”; crocodiles swim in a pool marked by “13 white lane floats” and “14 red lane floats”; a fox plays tennis (accessorized with “16 spare sweatbands”). Onlookers wear “17 pairs of sunglasses” and eat “18 tubs of popcorn” (one elephant does without shades). No. 19 (a ball-playing rabbit) is injured, and the cat referee calls a 20-minute break. Counting down is similarly handled. Whereas many books in this genre illustrate the number of items represented by the number, this book sometimes uses abstract concepts: “2 blows on the whistle,” and “a perfect score! 10”; 19 is given similarly short shrift (represented twice by the bunny’s jersey number). More seriously, there are some miscounts, notably “3 hurdles” (there appear to be five) and “17 empty water bottles” (there are 18).
Morgand’s silk-screen illustrations are lively and colorful, but ambiguities and mistakes seriously detract from the value of this book as an educational tool. (Picture book. 3-5)