cover image The Numberlys

The Numberlys

William Joyce and Christina Ellis. S&S/Atheneum, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4424-7343-0

In a lush series of b&w spreads meant to be viewed vertically, Joyce (the Guardians series) and newcomer Ellis imagine a factory lit like a Busby Berkeley set or Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, full of massive halls and gigantic machinery. Thousands of workers pour through its doors, and thousands of numbers emerge from it, providing order in the world and making it “numberly.” Alas, there are no “books or colors or jellybeans or pizza” in this regimented world; just 00267, which is “thick and gray and gloopy,” and 00268, which is “thicker and grayer and, well... gloopier.” With can-do spirit, five industrious elfin creatures break some of the factory’s numbers into pieces and invent letters, using the factory’s pulleys to lift them, steel mill–like claws to move them, and extruders to mold them like Play-Doh. The letters magically acquire color as they come off the assembly line, offering—at last—jellybeans and pizza, and even a new way to sleep (“zzzzzzz”). The story appeared first as an iPhone app, but works almost as well as a picture book, thanks to Joyce’s innate instinct for visual storytelling. Ages 3–7. (June)