Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

One Is Never Lonely

When you define one according to Merriam Websterit is being a single unit or thing.  So, this morning one school librarian walked her dog along one route in one town.  If you really think about it, is that the whole truth?

Is there more to the one school librarian, her one dog, their one route, and the one town in which they reside? Author Susan Hood and illustrator Linda Yan believe there is.  We Are One: How the World Adds Up (Candlewick Press, November 2, 2021) introduces a variety of mathematical concepts and expands our perspectives at the same time.  This is what makes our world so marvelous!

One can be one thing
all on its own---
one star,
one stream,
one stick,
one stone.

But those on their toes, those using their smarts,
know one can be more than the sum of its parts.

Our views are broadened one number at a time.  How many combinations of two can you imagine that equal one?  How many slices of bread make one sandwich?

Number by number, three, four, and five allow us to see how combinations of each can make one.  A haiku poem is formed with three lines.  How many points are there on a single compass?  Famous author Williams Shakespeare determined each of his plays would have five acts.

A way for the blind to see incorporates the number six.  The next time you look at a rainbow what number will come to mind?  What geometric shape has eight sides?

This numerical journey ends with nine and ten, but there is more to consider.  We know we are one individual human being, but are we not part of an ever expanding number beyond ten?  Numbers grow larger and larger when we go beyond our family, our workplace (school), our community, our country and our Earth.  And yet, that greatness, that vastness, comes back to the beginning.

We are joyfully welcomed into this counting realm with rhyming couplets meticulously penned by Susan Hood. We are skillfully presented with multiple parts that equal one.  On each page recounting these truths is more information.  Along the bottom like a conversational aside, Susan Hood supplies us with fascinating facts relative to the number being discussed. (These are in a golden yellow band.)  Here is a passage.

Three letters together spell out the word you!

Letters add up to words.  Words add up to sentences.  Many stories and poems follow the rule of
three, a writing principle that suggests characters and events are more satisfying when they come in
threes.  Just think of "The Three Little Pigs" and "Three Billy Goats Gruff."  From a three-ring circus to
the three primary colors, the rule of three (omne trium perfectum in Latin) says trios equal perfection. 

The digitally rendered illustrations by Linda Yan first seen on the matching dust jacket and book case elevate the happiness radiating from the text.  The image on the jacket and case stretches from the far left edge on the back to the far right edge on the front.  Multiple elements mentioned in the narrative and pictorially interpreted page by page spill from the top of the far-left corner in a trail of stardust behind our guide dressed in yellow.  Numbers tumble down from this pathway, falling to the rounded horizon.  Those elements and the main character are varnished on the jacket; making a stunning contrast to the dark atmosphere.

The opening and closing endpapers are covered in a bright sea green.  On the title page, the child wearing their yellow suit and pointed hat is standing on a stool on a rounded surface.  Colored building blocks are scattered about them.  A tripod holding a telescope is directly in front of them.  The dark sky holds tiny colored numbers like stars.

Two-page pictures and full-page visuals flawlessly flow from beginning to end.  Careful readers will see elements in one illustration appear in the next one or two or three or four.  The sandwich mentioned in the number two sequence is next to the child in the first image.  That sandwich is carried away by two mice into their hole.  It is the food for their wedding reception.

Linda Yan, complementing the text, brings us close to a particular scene when necessary or moves back to give us a larger view.  We see the mice carrying the sandwich to their hole from a distance, back with the child.  In the next image, she is peeking through the mouse hole.  We are brought close to the mice as they marry.

Readers will delight in seeking the child in each picture.  Sometimes she is larger than life, and other times you have to search for her.  Toward the end of the book, the child is joined by other children of diverse ethnicity and genders.  Total bliss resonates.

One of my many favorite illustrations is for the number five and the reference to five moves central to ballet.  We are inside a dance studio.  Light beams in three arched windows along the upper portion of the picture.  In front of the windows are a bluebird (large), a giraffe, a fictional character, a red squid, and pig.  They are all wearing ballet slippers and tutus as they demonstrate the five poses.  Our guide, still wearing her signature yellow, also has a tutu.  A musical score with notes is behind her as she runs across the wooden floor.

As soon as you understand the rhythm of the words written by Susan Hood and the accompanying artwork by Linda Yan, you will find yourself wondering what will be revealed with the next page turn in We Are One: How the World Adds Up.  You won't be able to stop thinking of other numbers.  How much fun is that?!  At the close of the book are Source Notes, Sources and Resources, Especially for Kids (sections expanding on the facts given in most of the numerical discussions), and More About How the World Adds Up:  Here are some other things that come in groups of . . . Under each number beginning with ten are lists to get you thinking.  I know you'll want to have a copy of this book in both your personal and professional collections.

By accessing their respective websites, following the link attached to their names, you can discover more about Susan Hood and Linda Yan and their other work.  Susan Hood has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Linda Yan has an account on Twitter.  At Penguin Random House, you can view interior images.

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