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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Zero, written and illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi. Publishers Group West, 2010. $21.00 ages 4 and up

"Zero felt deflated.
Eight and Nine were
numbers with value.
Of course they'd count.
How could they know how
she felt?
Zero had a new thought.
If she could impress the numbers,
that'd give her value."

Almost a year ago, I told you about Kathryn Otoshi's first book, One. I will never cease to be amazed by it. I share it as often as I can with everyone who will listen. And now, she's done it again!

Zero feels that she has no unlike all the other numbers that she knows. She sees no beauty in her existence and tries with all her might to be someone she is not. She tries to twist herself into shapes that look like eight or nine. She has no luck. She is big, she is round....nothing else. As she watches the other numbers having fun, she wonders:

"But how can a number worth nothing become something?"

The emptiness is overwhelming.

The other numbers try to make her feel valuable but she is convinced she is worthless. Then one day, she hears seven encourage her to be OPEN to possibilities. There's a new concept. What if she teams up with the other numbers? What would happen then? She throws herself into the line, at the beginning, and has a place. But, she has other ideas, too.

Could she help her friends become 10, and then 20? Once the ball starts rolling, there is no end to the combinations that the numbers can make. As they join together in a myriad of ways, each has more worth. And Zero feels whole!

Kathryn Otoshi's artwork is remarkable, as evidenced in her first book. She uses color to great effect and renders Zero in silver to keep her on a reader's radar at all times. There is expression and angst when she is deflated, ever growing power as she rolls and bowls over the other numbers, illumination and pride as she begins to understand the role that she and all the other numbers truly do play, especially when they work together.


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