cover image One Baby Boy: A Counting Book

One Baby Boy: A Counting Book

Helen Ketteman. Simon & Schuster, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-86534-4

Forget tallying sheep--the protagonist of this counting book is a regular little hellion with slightly sadistic tendencies. The baby boy's misdeeds, however, do not account for the numerous problems here. The confusing format depicts seemingly harmless play on one page, with its disastrous and bizarre consequences revealed on the next. ``One baby boy, / one bouncy ball / Uh! Oh!'' begins the count; without any visual cues of the ruinous results to come, the reader is taken aback to find that the bouncy ball has destroyed a potted plant. An overall lack of clarity impedes this book's usefulness: objects that should be easily identified and counted are often shown fragmented or partially eclipsed by another object, and the syntax can be ambiguous (``six white rats / Uh! Oh! / Let loose from their cages, / six chasing cats'') . Newcomer Flynn-Staton's soft-edged, impressionistic pastels in sunset hues are at odds with the five clothespins being ``snapped on the tails of five squawking hens'' or the seven blocks ``hurled in the garden, crush / seven pink phlox.'' Not a book parents and their little ones can count on. Ages 2-4. (May)