Here is Louise Yates’ third book with the sweet character Dog showing us what he loves. Once again in Dog Loves Counting, Dog’s problem lies with books: He loves them so much that he cannot stop reading them. While he should be sleeping, Dog keeps turning pages. Finally, he puts his last book on the closest stack next to him and tries to sleep. No luck. “He tried counting sheep, but they weren’t helping at all.“
So, he reaches for a book. What else would a book lover do in this or any situation? In A Big Book of Curious Creatures and Their Habitats, he finds other creatures he can count.
Dog begins, of course, with One. He first finds an egg that magically and wonderfully begins to hatch. It is a little baby dodo, which looks odd and lovable all at the same time as it looks up to Dog, as if asking, “What’s next?” Dog carefully takes him by the hand—or wing—and together, Number One and Number Two, they walk into Dog’s counting adventure.
It was on this page that I realized Yates had created a unique counting book, one that stands apart from the dozens of other books that help kids count to 10 or 12. Dog and the baby dodo encounter Number Three, a sloth. Not just any sloth, but a three-toed sloth. How clever! Yates introduces fascinating, curious animals that have on their body the number they now represent. And, like a cumulative rhyme, each animal then joins Dog and the baby dodo on their sweet, quiet adventure of discovery. The animals and reader aren’t sure what animal will appear on the next page, but they and we soon learn to expect something wonderfully quirky.
Most impressive to me was the five-lined skink, a lizard with five lines down its back that merge into one at its tail. The animals discover him under a log. To give you a little example of Yates’ dedication to finding cool, surprising, numbered animals, I’ll tell you that they find an insect with six legs, an animal with seven stripes, an animal with nine bands. When they reach 10, Dog decides to count again from the beginning. At that point, they realize they cannot find Number One, the baby dodo, and they are all very worried.
They scatter to search, and find the baby dodo gazing up at the stars, which they start to count in their heads even though they realize the task is impossible.
When Dog finally opens his eyes the next morning, he knows “his friends and adventures were need far away—that was something he could count on.” A clever ending to a clever book!
With three kids at three very different life stages (6 1/2–year–old in 1st grade, almost 5–year-old in preschool, 2 1/2-year-old home with me) and at three different reading stages, we leave the library each week with a gigantic bag of books. That’s part of the reason we don’t buy many books right now. But Dog Loves Counting really is a book that offers something to kids of all ages and to children of all reading levels. My oldest read it herself and was inspired by Yates’ simple drawings of smiley animals that are happy to discover something new right after being discovered by a little band of explorers. My oldest boy listened to the story and learned a few new animals, looked at the details within the animals that he now pays attention to a little more. And my youngest is learning to count. On every page we’d start with Number One at the baby dodo and go up to two, three, four, five ….
Finally, the story line—the ancient rite of passage for children about the joy discovering something new—is wonderful. How could I not want my kids to soak that up? I thought of Dog Loves Counting this past week as my kids realized, with the help of slightly older and slightly more adventurous boys next door, that there are crawdads underneath some of the rocks in our creek. With the same delight as Dog, they walked around, looking carefully at their surroundings, hoping to catch a few more and chase them around with their shovels and nets and imaginations. They caught them and counted them, with the same delight as Dog.Publisher: Random House Children’s Books URL: http://www.randomhouse.com/kids Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million! MSRP: approximately $15 Ages: 4-8 years
|Kept My Children’s Interest||5|
|Appealed to Advertised Age
|I Would Purchase for My Child||Yes|
|I Would Purchase as a Gift||Yes
All ratings on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high).
Meet the Reviewer!
Kate Schwarz is a full-time mom and wife living in Great Falls, VA. In addition to reading to her three small children, Kate runs marathons, Crossfits and blogs about raising kids with books at www.katesbookery.blogspot.com.