Another heady foray into math’s conceptual reaches, with zero chance of failing to entertain.

ZERO ZEBRAS

A COUNTING BOOK ABOUT WHAT’S NOT THERE

A counting book cleverly designed to raise awareness about nothing.

“Zero is a big nothing,” Goldstone rightly writes, “but it’s also a big deal.” Younger audiences will definitely get a sense of what he means from this effervescent animal count, which begins with “I see one wallaby…” and goes on from “Two tuna splish / and splash / and splosh…” to “Twelve turtles / wallow in mud”—each verse ending with a refrain that is some variant on “and zero zebras.” Zero zebras are indeed what viewers will find in the cheery illustrations, too, as Chung employs bright colors and precisely drawn geometric shapes in neat but lively compositions that feature arrays of (other) creatures, inconspicuously placed numerals, and, for sharper eyes to spot, glimpses of the odd foxtail, beach ball, or other visual reference to scenes just past. Then, after closing with a veritable litany (“When the stars come out tonight, / zero zebras do, too. / Along with zero pandas / eating zero bamboo”), the author eases in the mind-blowing notion that zero isn’t really a number at all but more of an idea, not unlike a different but adjacent concept: infinity. For an author who has already introduced picture-book readers to probability, pattern recognition, and estimation theory, it hardly seems a stretch. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another heady foray into math’s conceptual reaches, with zero chance of failing to entertain. (Math picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-74224-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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