Review of How Many?: A Different Kind of Counting Book

How Many?: A Different Kind of Counting Book [Talking Math]
by Christopher Danielson; photos by Scott Dorrance
Preschool, Primary    Charlesbridge    40 pp.
9/19    978-1-58089-943-7    $15.99
Paper ed.  978-1-58089-945-1    $7.99
e-book ed.  978-1-63289-813-5    $6.99

Danielson upends the traditional counting book format by letting viewers decide for themselves what to count. Take, for example, a crisp overhead photograph of a pair of black lace-ups with yellow stitching — Doc Marten lookalikes — tucked in an open shoebox. Counting options include the shoebox, the shoes, the shoelaces. Then there are eyelets and aglets, both of which are defined. Further possibilities exist, too, and the question “What other things can you count?” encourages viewers to keep looking closely. With a page-turn, we see a related picture: the same shoebox, but now it’s empty. Well, almost empty. Two black shoeprints mark its cardboard bottom. “Now how many do you see?” asks the text in large red typeface. For these shoebox photos, Danielson includes explanatory sentences to guide readers. However, for the next twelve spreads — all sleek and tidy — he presents just one question, “How many?” along with an eye-catching, nicely balanced picture. Eggs feature in three consecutive photographs, then grapefruits. Avocados show up in picture pairings, and pizzas do too. Cumulative scenes include all the different food items and the shoes. In a final note, Danielson emphasizes relationships: “Two shoes make one pair. Twelve eggs make one dozen. Fifteen avocado halves make one big batch of guacamole.” Danielson’s playfulness — along with his open-ended approach — will leave viewers, young and old, lingering over the pages.

From the November/December 2019 Horn Book Magazine.

Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger
Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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