Cindy: Children are often told not to play with their food, but don’t tell that to author/illustrator Juana Medina. 1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book (2016) combines math and art, turning veggies into animals via black, squiggly lines. The fun starts with half an avocado: the pit becomes a nose, the fruit a deer. Two Radish Mice
uses radish roots as tails. Three Pepper Monkeys swing across the page in bright yellow, orange, and red.
By the time the hungry reader gets to Ten Clementine Kitties, they’ll be ready for the final spread. The last pages feature a simple salad dressing recipe to practice measuring and fractions. Lynn’s youngest grandson, age 3, has both foodie parents and grandparents, so he loved this book and asked for extra helpings over the Thanksgiving weekend. Children will love trying new foods, like purple carrots, if you give them a chance. You can count on it.
Lynn: Counting books are often geared to our littlest readers, but counting is an important skill for primary- grade students, too. Kurt Cyrus takes counting books up a notch with Billions of Bricks (2016), in which counting by twos, tens, and twenties is just one of several fascinating elements.
The book opens on a construction site. Workers stride toward a stack of bricks, chanting, “Two, four, six. Look at all the bricks.” As readers turn the pages, they learn how bricks are made, mortar mixed, and bricks laid. A beautiful building rises, and a spectacular street stretches out.
The construction crew is a charmingly diverse mix of ethnicities, genders, and ages. Each page spread provides many interesting construction site details as the bricks are stacked, moved, laid—and of course, counted. Cyrus uses a warm, earth-toned palette, and his rhyming text provides lots of opportunities to join in the counting.
My six-year-old grandson loved this book as much as his little brother loved counting veggies, and he was so proud to be able to count by number groups. My hard hat is off to both of these clever author/illustrators, who provide a whole new look at an old standard.