CM . . . .
Volume V Number 15 . . . . March 26, 1999
You can count cereal.In a world where seemingly everyone wears clothing that blatantly advertises either the designer/manufacturer or some other commercial product, it was obviously only a matter of time before children's trade books would also be linked with other things to purchase. Consequently, this counting book's unit to count is a Cheerios "O," a food object that most young children have likely already encountered as a snack or as a breakfast cereal. From 1-10, each number is presented on its own framed page both as a word and a number. The number is rendered in the same colour as the accompanying pieces of fruit which appear along with the appropriate number of Cheerios. Therefore, seven yellow banana slices are matched with a yellow "7" and seven "O's" while 10 red raspberries keep company with 10 Cheerios and a red "10." To the cereal manufacturer's credit, the only time its name appears in the book is in the title. The rest of the time, the book refers either to "O's" or uses the more generic term, "cereal." Unfortunately, after reaching 10, 11-19 are dealt with on a single page. From that point on, groups of 10 are utilized as the book "counts" to 100, with 50 and above requiring double-page spreads to handle all the fruit and cereal. The text is understandably thin, and the unchanging counting unit is only relieved by the varieties of recognizable fruits. While children's familiarity with Cheerios will initially attract them to this counting book, it is not likely one that they will return to it again and again. And breakfast could become even a messier meal as young counters decide to move to the real thing!
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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