HomeJean Marzollo, author of I SPY

Gold Award

"Marzollo and Phillips team up for an idiosyncratic and eye-catching counting book featuring photographic compositions of miscellaneous objects including vintage toy cars, Dalmatian figurines, and rubber finger-puppet monsters. In one spread, 10 glass animals are clustered atop white steps, while the verse hints at the answer: "One poodle, four swans,/ five mice, and when.../ you count all the animals,/ you'll get to ___ (ten)." The playful displays suggest that number sense isn't just a classroom tool, but a way in which to explore and engage with one's environment." Publishers Weekly

"Each page in this playful counting book features a clear color photo showing objects mentioned in the accompanying rhyme. On the first page is an open box with nothing ("zero") inside, while the photo on the next page illustrates the same box holding a rabbit statuette. The verse reads, "Walking, walking, / just for fun. / How many rabbits? / I count ___ [one]." The space near the end of each verse reminds adults not to complete the rhyme, but rather to pause while kids figure out the answer. Marzollo mentions in an appended note that children at different ages will respond in different ways, such as using the rhymes as clues or touching the objects as they make one-to-one connections between each number and objects counted. From the unusual—but useful—idea of beginning the book with zero to the suggestions in the author's note, the book will be fun for children and useful to parents and teachers, particularly as it supports the Common Core State Standards."
— BOOKLIST Carolyn Phelan


I wrote Help Me Learn Numbers 0-20 to help young children get a head start learning math.

Based on the Common Core State Standards, kindergarten children today are expected to be able to count to 20 and to know what those numbers mean.  They are also expected to get a sense of how important the number 10 is.  

Kindergarten children are more likely to master today's kindergarten math curriculum if they are introduced to these skills and concepts at an even earlier age.  That way they are better prepared for kindergarten and first grade.  We sing the ABC song to toddlers and preschoolers, not necessarily because we expect them to learn phonics, but to impart the pleasure (and importance) of naming letters.  The song helps them be prepared to learn to read.

In the same way, we can impart the pleasure and importance of numbers in our world by reading the rhyming, rhythmic verses in this counting book to toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners.  They love looking at the clear, interesting and understandable photos.  Note that the last word in each verse is the answer to the question "how many."  Pause before you read it to allow your child to count to find the answer, to "get" it from the rhyme scheme, to remember it from a previous reading, or to use a combination of these strategies.

Children love to learn, especially when learning is enjoyable and success is possible.

"Using the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, Marzollo has created a fun way for children to learn these numbers. Youngsters listen to the rhyme and then supply the correct number for the verse. They will need to count the objects depicted in order to get the correct answer, which is displayed in the upper corner of each page. Rhymes for the lower numbers are easier to solve than those in the teens. The poem for the number two reads,

"Oink! Oink! / Who are you?
How many piggies? / I count ____(two)."

The illustrations feature two porcelain pigs. For the number 18, the objects are small peg people embedded in wooden blocks. Not only are they harder to discern in the picture, but the rhyme is also more difficult.

"Yellow, red, / blue, and green.
How many people in boats? / _____ (eighteen)."

Most of the clear and bright illustrations are photographs of antique and vintage figurines of animals, people, and monsters. This book will be useful in different learning situations for both parents and educators" – SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

After seeing a lifetime of counting books it's hard to impress me, but I found this one delightful. Instead of just counting along, there is a little rhyme and assortment of trinkets with each counting page. Here's one of my favorites:

"Please don't count
the tangerine.
How many apples
in all?__________ (fourteen)."

Highly recommended.

Correlated to Common Core Standards should make this an essential one for classrooms."

Angela Sherrill, GOODREADS





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