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Great Illustrated Books

1-2-3: A Child's First Counting Book

By Alison Jay

Dutton Juvenile, 2007
Pages : 40
Suggested Ages: 0-3
ISBN: 9780525478362

Though I work in a bookstore, I discovered 1 2 3 when my brother gave it to my one-year-old daughter with the intention of helping her learn to count.  At first glance I thought it was a nice counting book with beautiful illustrations.  Once we read it a couple times, though, I began to notice details I had missed that made reading this book so much more than reciting numbers.

Each page represents a number and also offers delightful hidden surprises. The number six, for example, stars Hansel and Gretel and six shiny sweets, six lollipops outside the witch's house, six mushrooms in the yard, six white birds, and six cats sulking about.  Every page is a scavenger hunt with tons of little details tucked into the nooks and crannies of the illustrations that reinforce that page's number.  Children (and their parents) will enjoy recognizing characters they know well, with spreads depicting scenes from fairy tales from Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk to The Red Shoes and Little Red Riding Hood.  There are often characters from other stories slipped into the background, foreshadowing their dedicated page to come.  If you look out the window of the Gingerbread Man's kitchen, for example, you will see Jack's beanstalk off in the distance and the Ugly Duckling's pond on the horizon. 

This is one counting book I won't mind reading over and over because I find new details each time we read it.  My daughter, at one, is captivated by the illustrations. She loves pointing out the different animals and details.  I can only imagine that as she gets older, she will love the treasure-hunt aspects this book offers even more than I do.  I think it will help make counting and learning math a lot of fun for her! 

Reviewed by : MES

Themes : ANIMALS. ART. FAIRY TALES.

If you love this book, then try:

Fox, Mem and Helen Oxenbury. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Harcourt Children, 2008.



Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Sandpiper, 2008.



Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Philomel, 2007.

Critics have said

This clever picture book will delight the very young as well as children already familiar with the fairy tales.
School Library Journal


The pictures are a wonder to behold.
Publishers Weekly