Sunday, May 21, 2017

Up to Ten and Down Again: Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar




How do we say goodnight? Let us count the ways, in Danica McKellar's first picture book, a math book, of course, beginning at the beginning with that first lesson, counting for one to ten and back again.

From the clever endpapers--counting from one to five inside the front cover to counting from six to ten inside the back, this one is all about numbers, set in the cozy framework of saying goodnight. From one bowl at supper, two hands to wash with Dad, three toy cars to put away while Kitty washes her four paws, there are always things to count. There are five points on the bathtub starfish sponge and six snaps on Mr. Peach's pajamas, seven days on the calendar, eight arms on the toy octopus, nine butterflies on the mobile above the bed, and, of course, all ten fingers and toes to get a goodnight kiss.

But that's not all, in author McKeller's Goodnight, Numbers (Crown Books, 2017). An actress on the series The Wonder Years and The West Wing, Danica McKellar is also the author of the notable middle-school math series, Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss, Hot X: Algebra Exposed! and Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, but here she turns to the beginning of math-consciousness, naming and counting the numbers of real things.

With the able assistance of artist Alicia Padron, McKellar's just-right rhyming quatrains take a variety of young children through counting the objects encountered on the way to bedtime, such as six blocks, stacked in a pyramid, each with six sides, to put back in the toy box. But that's not all: on the wall is a picture with a repeat pattern of six sheep. On another page there are eight sides on the STOP sign, nine bars on the side of the crib, nine tuffets on the footstool, nine links in the paper chain draped over the end of the bed, and nine hearts on the quilt to count before getting to the end with ten and settling down to sleep.

Alicia Padron's warm and gentle illustrations are done in basic soft blue and lavender tones just right for sleepytime stories, with each double-page spread filled with plenty of counting objects to spot, adding some fun (and incidentally, settling youngsters into quiet activities before lights out.) Author McKellar adds an appendix for parents with an author's note for adult caretakers, with advice, called "How to Get the Most Out of Goodnight Numbers," with a reminder that "numbers are all around" and so are chances to count, all through the day and even at bedtime.

Says Kirkus Reviews, "...this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia. The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon." "A first purchase for libraries," adds School Library Journal.

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