cover image Numbears: A Counting Book

Numbears: A Counting Book

Kathleen Hague. Henry Holt & Company, $10.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-03-007194-2

As a gift book with lavish pictures of quaint bears in antique settings, the Hagues' latest is a success. From the first bear to the last, the paintings are magnificently tinted and full of old world charm. But as a counting book, this is a muddle. Sometimes the bears are to be counted, sometimes they're playing or working with a set number of objects. For the young reader, it might be hard to pick out the four blue eggs in one picture, or the six shells in another, or the 10 clouds that look like fluffy lambs. The artist has hidden Roman numerals in the illustrations to tip off the reader, yet even some of these are difficult to find at first. While the text is lackluster, it does help ascertain what is being counted by which bear. Much work and care went into the creation and design of this book, but one is left wishing that author and artist had taken steps to make this the knock-out counting book it deserved to be. (47)