AT THE EDGE OF THE WOODS: A Counting Book

Cynthia Cotten, Author, Reg Cartwright, Illustrator , illus. by Reg Cartwright. Holt $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6354-7

With lilting, alliterative rhymes and the title acting as a refrain, Cotten (Snow Ponies ) invites readers to spend sunrise to sunset at the perimeter of a forest, a landscape that Cartwright (Mister Potter's Pigeon) fills with ever-increasing groups of industrious and convivial inhabitants. Around midday, "At the edge of the woods, the breezes blow,/ buttercups and clovers grow/ Five buzzy bees zoom to and fro/ at the edge of the deep, dark woods." (The featured numeral appears on each spread.) Every one of Cartwright's vignettes exudes good cheer as he introduces various additional elements from the text—the clover looks plump and delicious, the bees wear bright smiles and jaunty stripes as they perch atop buttercups. He distills the natural world down to simple, rounded shapes, giving them a dimensional quality of cut paper or collage. His knack for picking effective contrasting colors—warm lavender, in the case of the clover—adds visual punctuation to a palette dominated by greens and browns. The escalating count culminates with the march of 10 tiny ants; twilight rouses "a big, burly bear" who sends everyone scurrying into hiding (at the edge of the woods, of course)—but not before a recap of all the characters and their numerals. The intruder turns out to be such an unassuming fellow, however, that readers will likely get a giggle out of the other animals' hair triggers. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Children's
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