Sunday, January 26, 2020

Review - How to Two

How to Two
by David Soman
Date: 2019
Publisher: Dial Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

From the co-creator of the New York Times bestselling Ladybug Girl series comes a joyful counting book about inclusivity, play, and the thrill of making new friends--from one to ten and back again.

A quiet day at the playground turns into a boisterous park-wide adventure as one boy on the slide becomes two kids on the see-saw, then three jumping rope. Before long, ten new friends are playing like they've known one another forever.

With its deceptively simple text and a rich visual narrative, How to Two is a playful counting and reverse-counting concept book as well as an exuberant celebration of inclusive play, friendship, and community.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Something about this one rubbed me the wrong way. The illustrations are cute, and the counting aspect is fun, but I have a problem with the overall wording. Plus, this is a book that doesn't know when to quit.

This is a counting book with a bit of a... well, it's not so much a story as a premise. It starts out with one kid playing by himself. This is "how to one". This phrasing is used throughout, and though I can tell it means "how to play in a group of X number of kids", the wording is really weird. I've never heard playing in a numbered group said as "how to X". Unfortunately, that's pretty much the whole text of the book, so if it bothers you, there's no escape.

When we get to the end (or so we think), we're treated to another run-down of the numbers from 10 through 1 as the kids are collected by their respective families. Then the book seems to start all over again (thankfully, though, it only goes to two). And then we find out that there are animals hidden throughout the pages, so of course kids will want to go back and find them all. But wait, there's more! As a final, somewhat random touch, the numbers are reinforced yet again with illustrations of kids' hands and their fingers indicating the numbers from 1 to 10. I would definitely not recommend this book at bedtime; you'd never be done!

I've encountered Soman's work before in the Ladybug Girl books, as well as in Three Bears in a Boat. I don't really have much of a complaint with the illustrations, other than the fact that the diversity didn't really go far enough; there are kids from various backgrounds and family types, but everybody is able-bodied. It might've been nice to see a child with a physical disability represented, especially as the theme seemed to be one of friendship and inclusion.

The clunky phrasing (and never-ending nature of the latter part of the book) makes this a title I can't wholeheartedly recommend. I realize that my annoyance at the wording is a subjective thing, though, so others might enjoy this one more than I did. It certainly reinforces the numbers, so if that's what you're looking for, this might be a good counting book for you.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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