Friends to Count On: Abigail by Catherine Rayner
ABIGAIL LOVED TO COUNT.
IT WAS HER FAVORITE THING.
For a tall giraffe like Abigail, who looks high and low, it is easy to spot things to count on the African savanna. From a the spots on a tiny ladybug and speeding cheetahs to the stripes on frenetic zebras, there is a lot to do!
But no sooner does she start to count their markings, than her subjects move away. The ladybug scuttles under a leaf. The leaves on the tree flutter and shift, the zebras jump over the rocks, and the cheetah streaks by and out of sight.
Abigail gently complains to her friends, who suggest that she should count the flowers in a glade nearby. They even offer to help."
ONE TWO... ...LOTS!! BELLOWED ZEBRA.
"ONE, THREE, FIVE... ...MANY!" LAUGHED CHEETAH.
Abigail calculates that it is time for some counting lessons for the whole crew. Some of them have a slow learning curve, but by the time the sun sinks low, they have all mastered her lessons. But now there's a different problem.
"HOW CAN WE COUNT WHEN THE SUN HAS SET?" GRUMBLED ZEBRA.
Abigail is well equipped for looking up, and suddenly she sees a place where there are plenty of shining points of light to count... and count... and count.
"AND THEY ARE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!" ABIGAIL TELLS HER FRIENDS.
Catherine Rayner's Abigail (Tiger Tales, 2013) is a slight counting tale that benefits from the author's lovely expressionistic illustrations of African animals in their natural setting, a horizontally layered world of golden plain and sun-streaked sky. Abigail is an awkward but lovely young giraffe, and Rayner is at her best in showing her heroine, front legs splayed way out so that Abigail can have a tete a' tete with Ladybug or with her long neck curving over an umbrella tree to interrupt zebra's lunch of leaves, or stretching down and back between her front legs to look behind her. With several glorious double-page spreads, one of a whooshing cheetah galloping too fast to count her spots, and one intriguing spread with the recto page that opens into a vertical gatefold to accommodate Abigail's soaring neck looking up into the moonlit sky. Kid will count their lucky stars to have this beauty of a book, with Abbie's friends, who number 1,267 stars before bedtime.
School Library Journal says, "The exceptional art in this lovely piece of bookmaking carries the story to a higher level."