One Boy
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One Boy

5.0 1
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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ONE BOY is a perfect example of why Kirkus Reviews calls Laura Vaccaro Seeger the "emerging master of the concept book"-a die-cut book exploring counting and words-within-words, and the power of art and imagination. At the start, readers see a sad boy surrounded by empty, lonely chairs. At

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ONE BOY is a perfect example of why Kirkus Reviews calls Laura Vaccaro Seeger the "emerging master of the concept book"-a die-cut book exploring counting and words-within-words, and the power of art and imagination. At the start, readers see a sad boy surrounded by empty, lonely chairs. At his feet is a bag with paint brushes peeking out. The text reads "ONE boy" which-with a turn of the page and a look through a cleverly cut hole-turns into "all alONE." Page after page, the book becomes populated with seals, apes, and monkeys, all examples of words-within-words. Finally, we come back to "ONE boy" who is "all dONE," and we discover where all the characters came from.

One Boy is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

Jim Holt
This picture book acquaints a child with the numbers from one to 10. Each number is introduced with a simple but charming trick: a rectangular cutout in the page reveals a bit of what lies overleaf, inviting the reader to make a guess at the surprise to come with the turn of the page…Seeger's palette is bold and rich—and those who experience numbers coloristically (in my case, four is blue, seven is green and eight is orange) know how important this can be in making friends with them.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Seeger (First the Egg) crafts another nifty peek-a-boo book, counting to 10 and identifying new words by exposing or covering letters with die-cuts. A square die-cut on the cover frames the head of the title character, who is quickly introduced: as readers turn to the first spread, Seeger offers a numeral one and "one boy" on the verso page, with the boy framed in a rectangle on the right. A turn of the page shifts the opening to the left side and the words "all alone" appear, with "alone" incorporating "one." The boy now is visible without the frame, seated among empty chairs, a knapsack and paintbrushes by his side. This pattern repeats with "two seals/ at the sea," the "sea" derived from "seals." "Three apes," behind die-cut bars of a cage, make a "big escape." Aside from "four monkeys" who "[hold] the key" to the apes' cage, the images do not form a continuous narrative. Instead, the "one boy" reappears, and with the words "all done," he walks away from the book's 10 images, his paintbrushes dripping. Seeger uses pared-down digital art and flat saturated colors, trading in her characteristic handmade appeal for a slick look. But she's innovative as ever, improving a standard-issue concept with a game of words inside words. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Seeger begins her cleverly designed counting book on the cover, with one boy seen through a cutout square. When the first die-cut page of the text "1 One Boy" is turned, it frames the letters of "one" as part of the next text page, "All alone." Opposite sits the boy, alone amid a sea of empty chairs. And so the numbers progress from 1 to 10, with each double page having a cut-out on the right page revealing the subject: two seals, three apes, etc. and the following double page incorporating part of those words seen through the cut-out now on the left as part of the text describing the next scene. At the end, we return to the boy, who is marching off, paintbrushes in backpack, small replicas of the pictures tacked up on the wall. He is "all done." The images are very simplified, painted with minimal contexts, so our response is primarily to the text page. The illustrations are lighthearted, touched with humor, as the four monkeys interlace their tales and the five mice ice skate away. Each number uses a different page color, adding to the attractive appeal. Readers may be challenged to try their own fun with cut-outs and words. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2

Seeger's ability to transform everyday words and objects into an amazing concept book continues with One Boy . Using the numbers 1 through 10, her signature die-cut pages, and a vocabulary that is designed to show words inside other words, the author has engineered a tribute to wordplay that is unmatched. On readers' first trip through the text, it will appear that the 10 objects are loosely linked only by their spelling patterns ("Two seals,/At the sea"; "Ten ants/In your pants"). As the story concludes, however, it becomes clear that all of the art was painted by the "one boy" who started it all. Youngsters will quickly return to the beginning to study the paintings more closely. While preschoolers will enjoy the book's design and take pleasure in guessing at what is next to appear, it is children who are beginning to develop their sight vocabulary who will most appreciate Seeger's efforts. This is one boy who won't be left alone for long.-Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA

Kirkus Reviews
Ask anyone-a boy can be clever, playful and unpredictable. Seeger's latest concept book is like that: clever in its design, playful to the point of being puzzling, perplexingly unpredictable. Die-cut alternating pages do double-duty in this boldly graphic counting book, first isolating a portion of an illustration on the right, and then, when the page is turned, disclosing the larger picture while isolating both the numeral and a portion of the preceding text to alter both the visual and the verbal context: one boy / all alone; two seals / at the sea. Readers will want to make predictions about the big reveals, but they may become temporarily frustrated (especially when they reach the unnamed items that represent "nine"). The illustrative objects appear to be unrelated to one another, and there is no pattern or narrative, but the final page discloses a rather convenient connecting thread: These are paintings that the all-alone boy has created to illustrate numbers one through ten. (Picture book. 3-6)
Philadelphia Parents Express

Laura Vaccaro Seeger proves herself a master of the concept book, once again combining text, art and design into a uniquely crafted 'early reader'.

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Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
2 - 6 Years

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One Boy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laura Vaccaro Seeger has found a brilliant way to show how chunks of meaning can hide in the spelling of words. The writing and the design of the book are witty and fun, the fact that it is a counting book is an added bonus. Every child to whom I read this book understands more about written English. I love this book.