BOOKS: Dog returns, and this time he’s counting
By Jean Patrick
Republic Book Columnist
Dog became famous in the bestseller, “Dog Loves Books.” Now, readers can see him in a new setting. This time he’s counting.
“Dog Loves Counting,” By Louise Yates, begins with Dog in bed, surrounded by stacks of books. When he can’t fall asleep, he decided to count creatures.
First he finds an egg. “One,” he counts.
Next the egg hatches and a little dodo bird climbs out.
“I’ll look after you,” says Dog. “Together we are two. Number one, follow me … ”
Sure enough, they find Number Three (a three-toed sloth), Number Four (a camel with four legs), Number Five (five-lined skink) and so on.
When the animals finally reach the desert, Dog is disappointed. After all, there’s nothing left to count. But Camel assures him: “There are as many numbers here as there are grains of sand beneath our feet.”
At this point, the story could easily end. But Louise Yates takes it one step further, adding a reverse counting adventure to highlight loyalty and togetherness.
“Dog Loves Counting” is not a typical counting book. Instead of just counting animals or their traits, readers think about the animals in terms of their sequence. For example, Dodo’s name is Number One. Dog is Number Two.
It’s not a typical information book either. By the end, an extinct dodo co-exists with nine random animals in a Sahara-like landscape. Yet the species and their countable markings are factual, from the eight legs of a spider to the nine-banded armadillo.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of humor in the illustrations. The spider makes a web between the ears of the armadillo. The three-toed sloth hangs affectionately from the neck of the camel. Even the fly — who has escaped from the mouth of the skink — flies with his six legs floating freely.
The joy of counting fills the pages. However, it’s not the emotional focus of the book. Rather, Dog realizes the next morning that “friends and adventures” are something he can count on.
“Dog Loves Counting.” By Louise Yates. Knopf, 40 pp. 2013.