Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Mem Fox, Author, Helen Oxenbury, Illustrator , illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Harcourt $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-15-206057-2

Put two titans of kids' books together for the first time, and what do you get (besides the urge to shout, “What took you so long?”)? The answer: an instant classic. Fox's (Time for Bed ) text works off the simplest premise: babies around the world, even those who seem like polar opposites, have the same 20 digits in common. But there's real magic at work here. Given their perfect cadences, the rhymes feel as if they always existed in our collective consciousness and were simply waiting to be written down: “There was one little baby who was born far away./ And another who was born on the very next day./ And both of these babies, as everyone knows/ had ten little fingers and ten little toes.” Oxenbury (We're Going on a Bear Hunt ) once again makes multiculturalism feel utterly natural and chummy. As her global brood of toddlers grows—she introduces two cast members with every new stanza—readers can savor each addition both as beguiling individualist and giggly, bouncy co-conspirator. Ages 3–5. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
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