Sunday 8 November 2015

How Many Legs?

Written by Kes Gray

Illustrated by Jim Field
Hodder Children's Books 2015
Reviewed edition: Library copy

Back of Book:
How many legs would there be if a dog walked in with a chimpanzee? Or a squid rode in on a buffalo?
A zany, laugh-out-loud counting book from the masterful award-winning minds behind Oi Frog!

Missus B says:
I love Oi Frog! and was delighted to find this book from the same duo- Kes Gray & Jim Field.
How Many Legs? is a rhyming, counting, treat of a book.

Bursting with colour, animal characters and comical detail, this book certainly does make for a laugh-out-loud read. Since borrowing it from my library, I've read it several times to my little listeners and it always goes down a treat. I've maxed my 'renewal' allowance and am now 'incurring late fees' -oh dear. 

In How Many Legs? a little boy character with an impending party asks...

How many legs would there be
If in this room there was only me?

How many legs would there be
If a polar bear came to tea?

How many legs would it make
If a duck arrived with a lemon cake?

The questions continue, accompanied by comically illustrated animal characters who arrive for the party. The illustrations are wonderfully funny, mischievous and quirky.
Duck arrives with her 1950s glasses, hair rollers and, importantly, a lovely lemon cake.
The animals just keep on coming.....
Hippo arrives dressed in a tutu and wearing fairy wings (is that pink nail polish on her toes?!)
A seagull swoops in to steal some cake and a sausage or two.
There are animals with legs a-plenty - like the octopus and the centipede  (yes, there  are 100 squiggly legs there for your counting) and creatures with no legs at all-like the slug, snail and maggot -dressed in party hats of course.

The party is certainly wild and wacky, with plenty of mayhem happening on each the entrance of buffalo below...
Beaming Buffalo has arrived- hang on to your pizza!
There is SO much to love and appreciate within Jim Field's art work. His sense of humour bounces from the pages, with each of his animals having  quirky characteristics....
The basset hound sniffs out the donuts and plonks his sniffy-wet nose on the party table in typical doggy fashion (while dressed in Y-Fronts and a Super Hero cape.) 
The chimpanzee is well wound-up at the party, marching through the pages with his cymbals (glad this book doesn't have sound- it looks like one noisy party.)
Even the centipede looks positively smug  with his vintage handlebar moustache and monocle- well, he is a superior creature given that he has ONE HUNDRED LEGS. 
bespectacled flea arrives clinging on to a chunky bumble bee.
All insect legs with neatly tied shoes there for your counting.

'How Many Legs' is funny, quirky, charming and chaotic. What's more, it develops rhyming and counting skills.....a perfect read for circle-time or story time at home. 

A bit about the benefits of rhyming....
I love rhyming books,they help develop phonemic awareness in a playful and engaging way. Phonemic awareness is when children have skills in hearing, identifying and manipulating the sounds they hear in language. Through the book's rhythm and your expression as you read, children learn to notice more about the sounds within words and how language can be manipulated. Predicting, guessing, memorizing and coming up with their own playful sounds, makes for a rich and engaging story-time experience. In short, books like this are an effortless and fun way of laying the foundations for future reading.

Numeracy & Counting Skills
How Many Legs?certainly introduces the concept of counting, but not in the traditional, predictable, format. The rhythm of the text swoops you through the story, but if you do decide to stop and count- you could get confused.
If you lose count don't feel bad,
A sum this big could send you mad.
No need to tie your brain in knots,
Let's just say the answer's...
The last page in the book gives you the answer though. The sum leg total comes to 174 (yes, you will probably find yourself going back through the book to clarify same- so, set aside plenty of time!)

'How Many Legs?' is a Missus B favourite and a great circle time read.

Happy reading,

Missus B. 

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