Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

How to Count to ONE

(And Don't Even THINK about Bigger Numbers!)

written by Caspar Salmon

illustrated by Matt Hunt

How to Count to ONE

(And Don't Even THINK about Bigger Numbers!)

by Caspar Salmon
illustrated by Matt Hunt

Review posted July 20, 2023.
Nosy Crow, 2023. First published in the United Kingdom in 2022. 32 pages.
Review written July 11, 2023, from a library book.
Starred Review
2023 Sonderbooks Stand-out:
#4 Picture Books

How to Count to ONE is one of those interactive picture books that speaks directly to the child reader, and this one is all about subverting expectations of counting books.

It starts with a picture of an apple, and asks the reader to count it.

Then it says, "Now for something bigger . . ." and gives them an elephant to count!

Next you think, "Ah, here's more to count!" because the spread is filled with two giant whales. But instead, the narrator asks:

How many SAUSAGES do you see?

[There's one, floating on top of the spout of a whale.]

And that's how things go, with pictures of more and more things -- but at least one object in the picture there's only one of -- and that's what the reader is asked to count.

It's amazing how difficult it is to only count the one thing. And the narration plays off that. Here's one example spread:

So, here we have . . . some rhinos,
a few baboons, a number of snakes,
several ants and butterflies,
and ONE giraffe.

Using your counting skills, please count the giraffe.

I hope you didn't count the other animals.
Remember, this book is about counting to ONE!

Finally, the narrator accidentally asks the reader to count the goldfish, instead of the goldfish that is wearing glasses -- leading the reader to say "Two." See, even the narrator makes mistakes!

But it all ends with the narrator thinking maybe you're better at counting than they thought, so the reader is presented with one prize to count.

And if they're just dying to count higher by this time, the endpapers show one hundred things to count.

I love about this book that some children won't be able to resist counting things and other children will start looking to spot what there is one of. And it's all in a playful package for plenty of laughter -- while counting.