A Caribbean Counting Book

Faustin Charles, Author, Roberta Areson, Illustrator, Roberta Arenson, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16 (24p) ISBN 978-0-395-77944-6
The sights and sounds of the Caribbean burst into life in this vibrant collection of traditional counting rhymes. Gathered from children as well as the elderly, these chants can still be heard in schoolyards all over the islands, from Jamaica to Martinique to the Dutch West Indies. Each selection, attributed to its place of origin, pulses with the rhythms of a sunny clime. Pawpaws and breadfruit, guava and calaloo-stew give the verses an exotic feel, while girls jumping rope and boys ""peltin' stones in a tree"" set them within a familiar context. Each rhyme works as a counting song, often in a ""Ten Little Indians"" format descending from 10 to one. Their exuberance and humor make counting fun (""Well, four of me dumplins gone./ Don't tell me so!/ Four of me dumplins gone./ I don't want to know!""), provided that children are not put off by the dialect (""An' dat's de end of dis furry story""). Bold collages in intense colors capture the playfulness of the text while celebrating Caribbean flora and fauna. Arenson's simple shapes will encourage readers to count objects (fruit, centipedes, fish). A jovial companion book to Frane Lessac's A Caribbean Alphabet. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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