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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Absolutely One Thing: Featuring Charlie and Lola. Written and illustrated by Lauren Child. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2015. $24.00 ages 5 and up

"Lola shouts,
"I just need to do something."
I say,
"WHAT thing?"
She says,
"ONE thing."
I say,
But we don't
have time ... "
She says,
"I will be half of a second."

Getting to the store where Charlie and Lola will be able to choose ONE thing is tougher than you might think. Charlie needs time to brush his teeth, think about his forgotten breakfast, and even time to find the shoe that Lola needs before they can leave the house. When Charlie is ready, Lola is not!

She is easily distracted from the task at hand, and uses up untold time thinking about the number of dots on her dress. On the way, she counts ladybugs and how many shoes those bugs might need. Then, there are the ducks at the pond. When she stops to share the few crumbs in her pocket, she attracts other birds as well.

" I say,
THREE ducks,
SEVEN pigeons,
FIVE wading birds,
FOUR swans,
TWO geese, and
ONE flapping bird."

Lots of counting? Oh, yes! And number concepts galore. How much fun is that when wanting to up a little one's growing awareness for the world of numbers? Arrival at the store doesn't end the conversations. Now, Lola wants to bargain over what she is allowed to buy. Mom says one, Lola says three, Mom says one, Lola says two (as if she is willing to make a concession here) and Mom suggests NO thing at all. The deal is done, Lola and Charlie make their choices. The trip home is a lesson in subtraction as Lola uses her twelve stickers to decorate the neighborhood, her brother and herself.

Charlie seems the perfect older brother. While he may feel annoyed with his little sister, he is ever patient and kind while expressing his frustration to us rather than to her. Text is scattered all over the book's pages, and the font changes constantly to encompass the mathematical language and concepts.
Painted collage art is appealing and the characters charming. The author uses reds, greens and bright yellows to great effect. Readers will enjoy the humor, the relationship between the two siblings, and learn some math as an added bonus.

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