by Kathryn Otoshi
Zero is a big round number. When she looks at herself, she just sees a hole right in her center. Every day she watches the other numbers line up to count: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . . !" "Those numbers have value. That's why they count," she thinks. But how could a number worth nothing become something? Zero feels empty inside. She watches One having fun with the other numbers. One has bold strokes and squared corners. Zero is big and round with no corners at all. "If I were like One, then I can count too," she thinks. So she pushes and pulls, stretches and straightens, forces and flattens herself, but in the end she realizes that she can only be Zero. As budding young readers learn about numbers and counting, they are also introduced to accepting different body types, developing social skills and character, and learning what it means to find value in yourself and in others.
Publisher: KO Kids Books
Publication date: 9/15/2010
Age range: 3 - 6 Years
Product dimensions: 9.48 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.47 (d)
Otoshi builds on the success of her acclaimed picture book about bullying, One, with another moral lesson whose characters are digits. It's Zero who's in trouble this time as she compares herself to the other brightly colored numbers, all of whom seem to be doing marvellously well. "But how could a number worth nothing become something? Zero felt empty inside." Otoshi's delicate brushwork portrays Zero as a wistful gray outline whose uncertain edges echo her anxiety. Clever wordplay ("If I were like One, then I could count too!" thinks Zero) reinforces nicely paced action as Zero tries and fails to look like other numbers ("Zero twisted and turned to try to be Eight") until Seven tells her, "Every number has value.... Be open. You'll find a way." And she does; adding a zero to every number, the group finds, "bring more value to everyone." What could have been a pedestrian just-be-yourself tale is distinguished by Otoshi's simple and lucid text, judicious use of white space, and a voice that stays sincere without becoming overly moralistic. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Zero has a complex—she finds herself unglamorous. Furthermore, with a hole in her center, she feels she doesn't count as much as her fellow numbers do. Twisting herself into the shape of 8 or 9 doesn't work; her attempt only leaves an empty feeling inside. Then one day, Zero discovers that by joining together with another number, 1, for example, she can become 10, or 100, or 1000, increasing her value. Soon, the others do the same—2 joins 3, 111 joins 5, and 4 and 8 join 2 —escalating their worth and pleasure as well. At last, Zero feels whole, "right in her center." Otoshi's story plays out against either stark white or dense black pages where Zero is strikingly depicted in broad silver brush strokes. In contrast, the others numbers cartwheel across the pages in bright splashy colors. Readers swept into the arresting artwork will soon be captivated by the importance of numbers. However, the underlying mission of the book—to elevate children's self-worth—will take an intuitive parent or teacher to weave the two concepts together.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Catholic Education Week 2014 recommended reading.