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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Musk Ox Counts, written by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers. A Neal Porter Book. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2013. $18.99 ages 4 and up

"Wow. You sure are big.

Just like woolly mammoths.
I know because musk oxen
were alive back in the day.
Would you like to share your
page with me? No? Well, the
woolly mammoth didn't like
us so much either. I'm just
going to go find some animals
that can't trample me."

They are back! The zebra and the musk ox, in case you didn't meet them the first time. In their second starring roles, counting is the name of the game. The zebra remains pretentious as he takes charge of the action in the book. When the musk ox leaves the #1 page because he is lonely, the zebra has much to say to him:

"But you're ruining the book!
Now there's zero on one and three on two...
You need to go back to your page!!"

The musk ox is accommodating, or so it seems. Then, we catch a glimpse of the 'kick me' sign that has somehow attached itself to the zebra's butt. Page 2 says 2 yaks and that's what is there...well, and one musk ox but who's counting him? Will readers be confused? The musk ox is certain they will not be. The zebra begs to differ.

The jokes go on and words and in images. As I read it once and then again, I could just imagine what fun it would be for two kids to read together...enjoying the banter and poring over the detailed and imaginative artwork. There is absolutely no doubt that there will be multiple readings. Perhaps a tally could be kept!

Counting has never been such fun! I love the characters, the conversation and the comic timing on every one of its pages. Always a surprise when the page is turned, it will keep young readers thoroughly entertained and full of wonder for the next turn of events.

The blurb on the back page just adds to the zaniness of the entire package:

"Erin Cabatingan grew up in the 45th state of the union where she learned to play a 4-stringed instrument with 1 bow. Matthew Myers has illustrated 5 books, all with 1 hand. He pedals to his studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, every day on a 2-wheeled vehicle."

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