Monday, February 20, 2012

Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

 Zero finds her Zorro. Actually Zorro is not a part of this delightful book, I just liked the illiteration.

Zero really finds her zip. Not only does this book make counting fun but it is about how a number doesn’t feel she is worth anything because she adds no value to the other numbers. Zero tries page after page trying to transform into another number or force her presence on the other numbers. The page where she takes a rolling start, leaps into the numbers in order to impress them, only to knock them all down in a pile on the number 9 had the kindergarteners laughing out loud. What did the other numbers think? “All the numbers were bent out of shape.”

Zero discusses her feelings of emptiness and wanting to belong, “to add value” to the other numbers. The concept is a nice metaphor that can be used to discuss what it feels like to not be part of a group. The number 7 advises Zero to be open and “you’ll find a way” to be valued in the world of numbers. Zero “gets an idea” and joins with the numbers to increase their value by 10. The kindergarteners loved counting together and got just as excited as Zero. Students also liked it when I made noises like a balloon deflating when” Zero felt deflated.” When I read the title and the author, one of the Japanese girls in class jumped up and said with a big grin that the author was Japanese and her name sounded similar to hers.

Done in watercolor Zero is alittle blurry around the edges, gray in color, with thin brush strokes showing that she is not quite sure of herself. This is contrasted with the thick, bold brush strokes of the letters one through seven who have bold colors. When Zero discovers she is not empty she changes to a metallic silver acrylic color on a black background. The contrast shows Zero as a new person who is bold and confident. At first I wasn’t sure why the letter one was in gray instead of black but then realized that in order to use a black background none of the colors could be black. It makes it easier to see the number 10 in a mishmash of colors.

The prolific reviewer Elizabeth Bird talks about how it can be difficult to find books that get kids excited about integers in her book review, How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti. Make sure you check out How May Jelly Beans? and add Zero to that list.

I take it back. Zorro can be a part of Zero because Zorro was a hero and Zero is the hero in this story.

Ages 3-7
Reading Level 2.2
:-):-):-):-) 4 out of 5 Smileys

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