cover image Hungry for Numbers

Hungry for Numbers

Etienne Delessert, . . Creative Editions, $18.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-1-56846-196-0

Delessert's simple counting book (which might be regarded as a companion to his reimagining of the English nursery rhyme, A Was an Apple Pie ) shows the artist's work in its most stripped-down form. The book stars 10 creatures whose pop-out eyes, snaggly teeth, skinny limbs and lizard-smooth skin may be the conceptual antitheses of cuteness, but whose expressions are always sunny. The first spread shows them seated around a big, black table: "We are hungry!" One impatient diner has left tooth marks in the table. In a succession of tight close-ups rendered as full-bleed spreads, each creature handles shiny, lusciously drawn fruits : "1/ one banana/ 2/ two apples/ 3/ three oranges," etc. (One creature with an alligator-shaped head rolls apricots down its jagged nose.) At last, having counted all the fruit, the creatures share them—"What fun!"—and the final scene shows them staring at a single, remaining blueberry. Delessert's images unfold mostly in empty space, turning the creatures' horns and snouts and long ears into an abstract collection of geometric forms. The simplicity of the images seems an appropriate match for the sparse text. This will likely appeal most to Delessert's devoted fans. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)