BooksForKidsBlog

Friday, August 15, 2014

NO Respect! The Hueys in None the Number: A Counting Adventure by Oliver Jeffers

"HOW MANY DO YOU SEE HERE?"

"I DON'T SEE ANY!"

"THAT'S BECAUSE THERE ARE NONE!"

"IS NONE A NUMBER?"

"OF COURSE. IT IS ONE LESS THAN ONE!"

SO ONE MORE THAN NONE...IS ONE?

When is nothing really SOMETHING?

In mathematics, of course! We owe a lot to that nebulous quantity--the zero, a.k.a. nothing, nada, zip, zed, the naughty naught, without which we'd be stuck with calculating in Roman numerals! (Shudder!)

Ever since Saturday morning television introduced OUR HERO ZERO, even elementary students have known something about the powers of  the mighty naught. After all, without the zero, one could never become 10, or 100, or 1000, or, well, you get the idea. Essential for arithmetical computation and of course for higher mathematics, our hero zero still gets short shrift in preschool counting books.

But that's where Oliver Jeffers' notable Hueys come to the rescue, in his latest, None the Number: A Hueys Book (The Hueys) (Philomel Books, 2014). Jeffers' ovoid characters take on different colors to explain some of the uses of the aught or naught or zero,  a figure of many names. Jeffers' simple stick figures count up a variety of things, (Kevin's four tantrums, Rupert's five hats, nine seagulls trying to snatch Frankie's hot dog), with Blue Huey always maintaining that it SHOULD all begin with nothing!

O123456789!

Jeffers' art is notably quirky and eye-catching, and here his Huey characters stand out, along with his colorful numbers, against bright white pages, to make the point that counting should begin with that zero! Endpapers provide Jeffers' quicky lesson in  that mighty integer, the zero.  School Library Journal gives it one thumb up, saying, "Delightfully droll and enlightening, the unconventional Jeffers reveals the importance of the number zero."

Along with lauded picture books such as the best-selling The Day the Crayons Quit and Stuck, Jeffers' earlier Huey books include The Hueys in the New Sweater and It Wasn't Me: The Hueys, Book 2.