Friday, 14 February 2020

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 14th February 2020: "Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion" by Kristin Roskifte (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Oh no, not a counting book!" exclaimed Little Miss. "I'm not reading that!"

As we all know it's never a good idea to judge a book by its cover, and so "Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion" by Kristin Roskifte effortlessly pulled a double-bluff on us, and became our Valentines Day Book of the Week.

So why? There was something about it that caught my attention so I sneaked off and read it on my own. It begins with zero, nothing, no one, an empty scene picked out in blue line art - but as the book begins to unfold, the scenes are filled with colour - and people - and soon you're completely hooked into the multi-threaded wordless narratives of the characters that crop up throughout the book - until the very last scene (don't worry, you really won't have to count up to 7.5 billion if you don't want to!)

We sat down together and read through this - and there's a moment whenever we get together and review a book that we just know is going to be book of the week, where there's that unspoken agreement between us that this is something truly special.

It's those human stories. They're utterly addictive. As a lifelong people watcher, I was hooked more or less instantly and fully understood what Kristin was doing here. Little Miss took a little while longer to catch on but as a chip off the old block, she too couldn't resist the lure of following particular characters' threads through the book, guessing, making up stories or finding out what their ultimate goals were, what they were up to, and in some cases, their inherent naughtiness as they get up to no good (which is, of course, a massive lure to any kid who loves living vicariously through the characters in a book - which is, er, pretty much all kids right?)

So let's have a look inside...

This is how it begins. Subtly, slowly - a scene of a little boy trying to get to sleep, and then a moment of bonding.

In each page spread Kristin not only draws up a fantastic scene full of hidden details and nod-worthy points of reference, she throws in a sentence that causes your brain to do somersaults imagining what the characters might be thinking, or what they may be doing or planning.

As the book gets busier, so do the scenes - and suddenly you're presented with multiple narrative threads, and a whole brace of characters to follow, backtrack and find in other scenes, and to imagine the lives of. Again read the text, and it feeds your brain even more - sometimes with stuff that's actually quite bittersweet and heart-wrenching.

Kids are absolutely drawn to this sort of book, where they can essentially make up their own stories and narratives, and mould the book's intentions with the whims of their own imagination.

I don't think we've ever seen a counting book quite like this, and I can't understate how amazing it is. Sure it might initially sail completely over your child's head but once they get drawn in, and once they 'get' what the book is doing, they'll be utterly hooked like we were.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A truly stunning and amazing counting book like no other, dealing with a very human and multi-threaded book world that is filled with all the amazing things that make us special, secretive, joyful, conniving, sneaky, loved and 7.5 billion other characteristics in between.

"Everybody Counts" by Kristin Roskifte is out now, published by Wide Eyed Editions (kindly supplied for review).