Marzollo’s latest math title is a rather utilitarian counting book combining mediocre rhymes with I Spy–like objects to count.
The sometimes clunky verses seem to revolve around words that rhyme with numbers rather than on reader appeal. “This number loves / to rhyme with eleven. / How many are you? / We are ____ (seven)…Can you tell me / where to shelve / Mr. Rooster? / Box ____(twelve).” All the answers are numbers, making it easy for children to count the items or identify the numeral or match the rhyme so they can participate in the reading (although the rhymes from 13 to 19 are all identical). The endpapers encourage readers to practice skip counting, while backmatter emphasizes the importance of practicing math early in childhood. Antique toys and unusual found objects lend a layer of interest to the photographs. From small blown-glass animals and old-school Matchbox-like cars to monster finger puppets and wooden peg people obviously painted by children, these are objects that are not seen every day. While the rhymes leave Phillips little room for creativity in his book debut, he does incorporate some interesting textures by using different materials for his bases.