1 to 20, Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers Post by Caroline Flory
It’s hard not to judge a picture book by its cover.
When you take a first look at 1 to 20, Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers (POW! Books, 2014) from far away, you might just see a few random animals on a very simple grayish blue background. Nothing bright. Nothing flashy.
But, then, you notice the title’s font is a little different. There are stripes in the “A” and a tail for the “l” perhaps? A Siamese cat is sitting beside a flamingo. That’s a little odd.
And is that goat wearing a coat?
Okay, you think, maybe I’ll take a closer look.
You open the front cover. Again, a very plain inside cover. With a baboon sitting calmly in the corner and quietly inviting, “Let’s count.” That’s it.
So you turn the page. Everything is unassuming. A lot of white space. And yet… intriguing. Something is different about this book, and you just can’t quite grasp its essence yet.
“1 fox in a pair of socks”
This fox is looking right at you. A gorgeously colored fox with visible hairs and an adorable grin…plus, striped, zigzag-y, bright knee socks!
Then you continue:
“2 gorillas looking in mirrors”
…and so on.
“4 sharks on their marks” Beginning on this page, we experience a huge nonfiction asset of this book: labels. A majority of the rest of the pages includes tiny labels beside or below the illustrations identifying specific varieties within that species of animal. The author/illustrator must have done vast amounts of research to draw the minute differences between some of these animals.
“5 goats wearing coats” (Yep, that goat sure was wearing a coat.)
More pages of this wonderfully subtle and goofy humor continue counting all the way up to 20. We see seven breeds of pigs (and seven very different wigs). We find nine species of cat. We’re introduced to fourteen banana-loving capybaras. (Do you know what capybaras are? I didn’t!)
To wrap-up this fun, unique counting book, we see thumbnail pictures of every single animal shown in the pages before in nicely lined rows where kids can make connections between seeing the number itself and the actual amount.
Besides being funny and inducing silly chuckles (ants wearing underpants!), this book offers many curriculum connections. With illustrations including all the animals specified on that page, preschoolers can practice one-to-one correspondence counting on every spread. The detailed illustrations allow for practice in observing and describing differing features. Plus, the inside of the back cover offers a world map with the animals standing on their home countries. A great geographical tie-in!
We’ve read this book several times and keep finding new details to explore. With counting practice, color identification, and animal fun, this book will delight preschoolers and early elementary kids throughout many re-reads.
If your kids/students love this one, Katie Viggers has a companion book called Almost an Animal Alphabet (POW!, 2013).
Caroline Flory reads, writes, and breathes books – especially kidlit. A former elementary school teacher, she now works from home and reads throughout the day with her two little ones and her husband. She believes picture books and other kidlit can speak to all ages and learns as much from quality literature as her kids do. Her “to-read” piles are ever-growing, and she thinks the best decorating style is books, books, and more books. She loves Twitter (@Keep_Tha_Faith) and sharing books on Instagram (@carolineugmh). You can also visit her website.