Noni the Pony Counts to a Million (Alison Lester)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Noni the Pony Counts to a Million by Alison Lester, a simple and sweet counting book from the Noni the Pony series.

Starting from a simple count of the numbers one to ten, then expanding to concepts of dozens, hundreds, thousands, and millions, the reader follows Noni the pony and her animal pals as they spend a day taking in the nature around them. Racing cows, meeting wallabies, and playing hide-and-seek with puppies are all wonderful ways to practice counting skills, and as the sun begins to set, they can watch thousands of car headlights and admire millions of stars.

Understated, gentle, and charming. The adorably rounded Noni and her pals are sure to appeal to any young bookworm, being affectionate, cheerful, and full of curiosity. Lester’s rhyming text has an uncomplicated cadence that is easy and fun to read aloud, and the easy transition between core counting skills and more complicated concepts of multiples is one that engages without overwhelming. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ loved Noni and her friends, and especially counting each of the multiples of animals in the illustrations. Overall, a great basic to get kids curious and excited about counting, and we absolutely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Witches Three Count On Me! (Yates Davis & Lynda Bouchard)

Hello, friends! Our spooky series book today is The Witches Three Count On Me!, written by Yates Davis and Lynda Bouchard, and illustrated by Kody Kratzer.

During dinner on Halloween, a little boy misbehaves and is sent to his room, but he decides to “play a trick” by climbing out the window and running into the woods. There, he comes upon a group of three witches casting spells by moonlight, who quickly capture the boy and fly him on broomstick back to their lair. Knowing the witches plan to eat him, the boy uses his trickery skills to confuse the witches with a math riddle, fooling them and winning his freedom. The witches flee, and the boy runs home to his waiting mother and Halloween superhero costume.

Frightfully uneven. The unnamed protagonist doesn’t get off on a very good foot by beginning the story by calling his little sister ugly, something that makes her cry (the illustration is mildly devastating). From there, while he experiences some minor moments of peril, he does not seem to learn anything from his experiences, and shows no growth or remorse by the end. The rhyming text is well-balanced for the most part, with a few inscrutable verses that are difficult to read aloud, but the story itself drags, and the word problem during the climax causes an abrupt and jarring tonal shift. The artwork is similarly inconsistent, with some spreads nicely balancing autumnal hues and cinematic framing while others have noticeably flat features or oddly-exaggerated character expressions. This would definitely be better for older elementary children, owing to the difficulty the math problem and the length; JJ enjoyed the first few pages of witches, but lost interest quickly. Overall, this ambitious indie lacked the polish and direction that could have made for a better Halloween tale, and it wasn’t for us.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Crash! Boom!: A Math Tale (Robie H. Harris)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Crash! Boom!: A Math Tale, written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Chris Chatterton, a sweet story of a young elephant learning to build a block tower.

A little elephant plays with a set of blocks, stacking them to form a tower. He hopes to make the tower as tall as he is, and after some careful balancing of four blocks on their ends, he does – until the unstable tower collapses with a “Crash! Boom!”. The little elephant cries a few tears, but then starts again, finding that the blocks are more stable on their wider side, but it will take twice as many to achieve the same height. Once again, the elephant builds the tower to his liking, this time enjoying an intentional “crash! boom!” when he’s done. But what other combinations of blocks can make the same height? Time to experiment and see!

Adorable. Even without the math elements, the precious elephant and his exuberant block-building are a charming story about trying again when your initial attempt fails. The elephant’s expressive face and body, interacting with real-life photos of wooden blocks and containers, was absolutely darling and won JJ over from the first page. The added bonus is the subtle inclusion of basic math principles like counting and geometry, kept simple enough that beginners can follow along and build a foundation for future math concepts. The length was great, and JJ loved it. A delightful little story that encourages experimentation, perseverance, and play, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

100 Bugs!: A Counting Book (Kate Narita)

Hello, friends! Our book today is 100 Bugs!: A Counting Book, written by Kate Narita and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman, a colorful and engaging interactive book for young entomologists.

A brother and sister wake up, excited to start their day – they’re going bug-counting, and you’re invited to join! Each two-page spread features ten individuals of a different creepy crawly species, the rhyming text inviting the reader to find the insects among the sunny scenery and flowers. The center spread allows for more counting fun, allowing readers to seek-and-find up to fifty of the animals. At last, the siblings retire for the day, proud of their work – all together, you and they have counted 100 bugs.

What a delightful book of beasties! Combining arithmetic with bug spotting, the theme encourages curious little minds to look for and identify insects while also honing their math skills. And while the repeating rhyme scheme felt a little awkward at first, by the end I started to find the rhythm. The art is the star here, creating bright, colorful rural scenes and chipper characters that embody summer and childhood curiosity, and the many bugs are lifelike yet nonthreatening. The length is fine for any little Bookworm, and JJ really enjoyed both the insects and the arithmetic. A lovely book for budding scientists and/or mathematicians, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Cookie Fiasco (Dan Santat)

Hello, everyone! Our book today is The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat, a fantastically fun story about division, of all things.

The cookies are ready! But wait… there are four friends, but only three cookies! How will the friends split their cookies equally, especially with a nervous hippopotamus who keeps breaking the cookies into smaller and smaller pieces! They had better figure it out soon, or all that will be left are the crumbs!

Dan Santat’s books are always a treat, and this one is no different! Besides cleverly sneaking in a lesson about division and fractions, the story is filled with silly, melodramatic dialogue that is a blast to read. Add in Santat’s gorgeous signature style of illustrations, and this is a wonderful book to share with little ones of all ages. Baby Bookworm approved!