Martin and Sampson (co-authors of I Pledge Allegiance) and Ehlert present an exuberant follow-up to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (which Martin wrote with John Archambault, and Ehlert illustrated in 1989). Here numbers take over an apple tree, rather than letters tumbling from coconut tree branches. Launching the appealingly absurd antics is a challenge framed in the familiar rhythm: "1 told 2/ and 2 told 3,/ `I'll race you to the top/ of the apple tree.' " As the subsequent numbers climb one by one with equal enthusiasm (after 20, the counting goes up by 10s), a worried zero (as indicated by a stray bead of perspiration) chants a refrain, "Chicka Chicka/ 1, 2, 3.../ Will there be a/ place for me?" The climbing comes to a halt when bumblebees arrive, ordering the numbers to vacate, which they do in reverse order ("90, 80,/ 70 fall,/ hit the ground/ in a free-for-all"). A fun twist involves a missing number and zero, who finally realizes where he belongs and leaps atop the leaves, a move that scares off the bees and clears the way for the other numbers to return. Featuring electric colors and an amalgam of basic shapes, Ehlert creates cut-paper compositions as wry and buoyant as the rhyming text. Several embellishments offer additional whimsy (5 wears a top hat, 70 sports long hair); endpapers and jacket flaps brim with brightly-hued numbers. Cleverly calculated verse and visuals add up to numerical mayhem that will entertain as well as reinforce counting skills and digit identification. Ages 3-7. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
PreS-Gr 2-A counting-book companion to Martin and Ehlert's Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom (S & S, 1989). The cut-paper art is almost identical to the earlier work, right down to the use of vibrant splashes of color. The layout will also be familiar to that title's many fans. At the center of the story this time, however, is an apple tree. Numerals race to the top with 1, 2, and 3 leading the way. Next come 4, 5, and 6 climbing right behind, but "Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3- Will there be a place for me?" asks 0. Page after page, the numbers climb ("Hot pink 12, lucky 13, picking apples, red and green") and they all forget 0 down in the lower right-hand corner. They keep going "until at last there's 99, and all the numbers are feeling fine." Except for 0, that is, who begins to cry once again, "Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3- Will there be a place for me?" And, at precisely that moment, a swarm of bumblebees arrives shouting, "GET OUT OF OUR TREE-." Alas, the counting begins anew, this time backward. And 0, no bad apple, finally discovers his life's calling and rightful place: at the very top of the tree next to 10, who stayed there all along, becoming- 100. This story is a perfect selection for 100th day or Zero the Hero celebrations. A deliciously sweet selection, and a nifty counting book to boot.-Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.