Counting on Fall
is the first in Lizann Flatt's four-part Math in Nature series of children's books for Owl Kids. The book aims to use "poetic prose" and question prompts to engage young readers with math concepts (in this case, counting).
Overall, I wasn't blown away by the writing in this book. I understand that Ms. Flatt was writing for an educational publisher and as such was operating under a very specific mandate, but I found the presentation of the question prompts a little heavy-handed. Any parent or teacher who'd ever read a book to a child would have been able to come up with these questions on their own. Thus, I found their inclusion as part of the illustration (in a coloured paper text box) both jarring and unnecessary.
I do have to give Ms. Flatt kudos for choosing to feature flora and fauna native to Canada in this series and for the research that went into the "Nature Notes" at the end of the book. Honestly, I think that if the whole book had been written in this straight forward prose, I would have enjoyed it more.
The highlight of this book for me was definitely the illustrations. Barron's cut-paper collage technique and hand-painted textures were lovely and whimsical. The page spread with the whales was my favourite image, but the one with the mischievous raccoons came in a close second. Barron is amazingly talented and has a distinct knack for creating colourful and engaging illustrations. If you're a fan of her work, she has a fabulous website (www.ashleybarron.com) and blog (www.ashleybarron.wordpress.com) that features her current projects (ranging from magazine covers to stop animation films).
Verdict: Worth collecting for the illustrations alone.