I’d like to thank Matt Forrest Esenwine for sharing a digital copy of Everybody Counts! with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.
Written by Matt Forrest Esenwine | Illustrated by Emma Graham
Children are invited to a lively international food festival in this rhyming and educational book that introduces readers to twelve nationalities through their cardinal numbers from 1 to 10 and a favorite dish that kids will be eager to try. As they visit each “booth,” readers learn about the ingredients and how each meal is made and meet an animal commonly found in each country. Along the way, they also gain a sprinkling of history, traditions, and information on the featured language. Kids even discover which number is considered the luckiest in China and why.
With a verse that plays on the idea of counting, Matt Forrest Esenwine starts off his world tour by prompting readers to look not only for the special attributes of each animal and their country but for those inside themselves and in those around them too: “Everyone is helpful, / in large or small amounts. / Everybody matters. / Everybody counts!” The enthusiasm in these words carry over onto each page spread, which includes a deliciously descriptive rhyming verse, a charming paragraph of explanatory text, and a row of numbers along the bottom, presented in their written form and how each is spelled in the particular language.
Emma Graham immediately captivates readers with her vibrant opening spread that frames Esenwine’s introductory verse with a series of beautifully patterned plates representing the countries found within the book’s pages. With a page turn, kids are invited into the festival to meet some of the excited participants as they chat with their neighbors and show off their dishes. Graham packs her pages with personality, adorable animals, images of ingredients, and symbols, patterns, landscapes, and colors that give kids plenty to talk about and to jumpstart research projects or new recipes to try.
The multifaceted approach of Everybody Counts! is sure to engage kids in many ways—from feeling pride in their own heritage to the sense of accomplishment in learning to count in another language to wanting to try new tastes and foods. For teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and other adults, the book provides an enticing way to introduce geography, language learning, math, and even art lessons. The book’s familiar frame of an international festival can also spark ideas for events in classrooms, schools, and extracurricular clubs or organizations.
Sure to prompt enthusiasm for story times, educational reading, and a host of extended activities, Everybody Counts! is highly recommended for home libraries and is a must for school and public library collections.
Ages 4 – 8
The Little Fig, 2023 | ISBN 978-1633330559
About the Author
Matt Forrest Esenwine’s children’s poetry can be found in numerous anthologies, including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry. His various poems and picture books have received numerous positive reviews, including a Kirkus star. Flashlight Night was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the Best Books for Kids and chosen by Kirkus as one of the Best Picture Books of the Year. Matt currently has twelve other books under contract and coming soon. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife, kids, and more pets than he has fingers. You can visit Matt on His website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.
About the Illustrator
Emma Graham is a versatile and experienced illustrator and graphic artist. Since graduating from Norfolk Institute of Art she has build a vibrant portfolio including children’s picture books, private commissions, and Wild In Art sculptures. She was longlisted for the Picture Books Hooks mentoring scheme and a finalist in The Hook at the SCBWI BI conference. As author, she was a finalist in the Stratford Literary Festival’s Salariya Prize for picture books. Emma is commissioned illustrator for the Children’s Appeal at Ipswich Hospital(UK)–a charity raising funds for a full refurbishment of the children’s ward. You can connect with Emma on Her website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.
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