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Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm Number One, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Bob Graham. Candlewick, Random House, 2009. $20.00 ages 4 and up

"You can laugh at me as much as you like,
but you're no good.
And you, you're so bad.
And you, you're the worst."

A-One rules the toys, and his reign begins as soon as the mother and child are out the door in the morning. He bosses the other toys to do his bidding, then criticizes them for trying to help him. He further makes fun of their clothing, and ends up taking each piece that doesn't find favor with him. As the toys begin to notice how silly they must look doing whatever they tell him, and how silly he looks dressed in their clothes, they whisper together and laugh at their own antics. A-One tries to remain harsh and critical but the others temper his power with their laughter and make him realize that what he really wants is to be 'one of the gang', not alone and in charge.

Bob Graham's artwork adds a parallel story that has no counterpart in the text. It begins on the front endpaper and finishes on the last, as the young girl and her mother return home, the toys return to their previous disarray and the dog welcomes his mistress home with a heartfelt gift. Young astute listeners will not miss that story as it plays itself out alongside the written text. What fun and what a gentle way to get a discussion going about 'bossiness' and how it makes others feel.

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