Out for the Count
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This issue’s cover is from a stunning new picture book, Mary’s Secret by David McKee (Andersen Press, 0 86264 909 9, £9.99). An ecological fable about doing without cars, McKee’s story with its bright pictures full of well observed detail is set within Mary’s cheerful family and at her school. His bold, painterly illustrations use the page so confidently and dextrously that their quirky, decorative perspectives seem entirely natural. Thanks to Andersen Press for their help in producing this September cover.
A rhyming, rollicking adventure which takes a small sleepless child from the traditional counting of sheep (of which there are 7) through a deep, desperate and dark wood, where 12 wolves prowl, to a ship armed for war with 45 fearsome pirates aboard. On goes Tom, barefoot and pyjama-clad, to the South Pole, where the reader can count 54 pecking penguins. Bears, bats, ghosts, tigers and shadows complete the adventure with a count of 100, before sleep finally overtakes the child. The Rackhamesque illustrations have great appeal.
The reader can count the animals drawn on each double spread, and check them rather more easily in the boxed text. Here the animals are silhouetted in black, grouped mathematically in 10s, plus the odd units. The end papers reinforce counting, displaying a board game where the hazards are represented by the 7 sheep, 12 wolves, 45 pirates etc. This picture book will be useful in raising number awareness in picture books in this coming year when all primary schools introduce the numeracy strategy. Most useful one-to-one, when the child can explore the silhouetted sets of 10, and practise counting large numbers.