cover image Numeralia


Jorge Lujan, trans. from the Spanish by Susan Ouriou, illus. by Isol. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-444-2

"1 for the world's smallest flag," writes Lujan in this poetic exploration of the physical shapes of numbers. The numeral does look like a flag, readers will see; Isol contributes a puckish drawing of a disconcerted anteater confronted by an anthill boasting a tiny flag. Throughout, Lujan's verse and Isol's artwork create the same quiet alchemy (they previously collaborated on 2010's Doggy Slippers). Isol's scrawled portraits, in muted pastel hues, almost look like off-register silkscreens, with wandering lines and fields of color that float and drift. "0 for the way an egg stands" appears next to an image of a gigantic egg with a small bird on top of it; its closed eyes make it clear that it's committed to seeing the hatching project through. The number four is "a chair hanging by its legs" and eight is "sand counting out the hours." Inside Isol's hourglass, a boy sits in the top half digging sand while a girl below holds up an umbrella. It's an unexpected way of looking at written characters, but one that will make intuitive sense to children. Ages 3%E2%80%93up. (Mar.)