Five For a Little One
by Chris Raschka
Richard Jackson Books, Atheneum Books for Young Readers,
Simon & Schuster, 2007
A delightful concept book using a limited color palette engagingly for the young. "Little One" is an ebullient bunny rendered in a variety of marks, all vibrant and textured: one fuzzy ear, one dry-brushed; a fuzzy torso and marker feet. The "Five" being referred to are more than the numbers, but also the senses Little One explores with child-like curiosity - smell, hearing, taste, sight, and touch. Raschka is brilliant at creating a multi-layered character and story with a frugality of words, marks and colors.
Some of the words are little big, but I think with the help of an adult and the context of the book, the meaning is evident to the child reader. The book itself is told in rhyme and the beat is consistent. The senses are encouraged by strong verb usage. The descriptive for hearing: “Happy ears, pay attention!/Did we mention sounds surround you?/Catch the honking, barking, singing./All that ringing will astound you.”
The senses are delightfully portrayed with colorful potato cuts. The child-friendly representations (flowers and toy cars are two examples) of those senses are broken down into elemental shapes, quite pleasing to the eye as well as easily comprehensible to the viewer. All the way throughout, Raschka uses texture effectively, with a great contrast and legibility against the whiteness of the page. Little One is vibrant for the comparison.
Raschka brings Mum and Dad in for the recap of numbers and senses. Surprisingly, and yet in a totally satisfying way, Little One is a true replica of both Mum and Dad. The images are stand alone, with no words. Little One shares newly discovered senses alternately with Mum and Dad, leaving room for the reader’s little one to do the same.
Page-turning, joyous, elegant in its simplicity and expression, this was a joy to read. And read again. And again. -A.W.