cover image ONE IS A SNAIL, TEN IS A CRAB: A Counting by Feet Book

ONE IS A SNAIL, TEN IS A CRAB: A Counting by Feet Book

April Pulley Sayre, Jeff Sayre, , illus. by Randy Cecil. . Candlewick, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1406-5

This husband-and-wife team (Hummingbirds: The Sun Catchers) puts a beach community's best feet forward and simultaneously explores the myriad ways that numbers can combine. Beginning with the critter with the fewest feet ("1 is a snail"), proceeding to the two-footed humans ("2 is a person"), simple addition results: "3 is a person and a snail." Thirty is rendered as three crabs ("Crabs have ten feet," the authors point out in an earlier aside. "Their front two feet also have a second job, as claws") or "ten people"—whose feet dangle below the surface of the water—"and a crab." The highest number here: 100 (10 crabs, "or, if you're really counting slowly... one hundred snails!"). Cecil covers every inch of the spreads with scratchy-textured, tropically-hued oils; this approach gives the colors a subtle dynamism and creates a counterpoint to the strong, simple shapes of his multi-footed characters and their black ink outlines. Clearly, his favorite characters are the crabs. Not only do they chime in with their convenient multiples of 10, but they also display an array of improbable talents, from bicycle riding to playing two-crab team volleyball. Ages 5-8. (May)