Thursday, December 08, 2011

Numbers and Letters

City Numbers
by Joanne Schwartz
photos by Matt Beam
Groundwood Books, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher

I'll admit, I'm a little surprised to be reviewing this book. Photographs of numbers around you in the city? Big deal. The book starts with 000. Not much of a surprise. Next up is... 1/2 ?? Hmm... Then 1, and... 2nd (second). That's exactly how long it took me to be hooked -- as soon as I wasn't sure what was going to happen on the next page, I was eager to see what number came next and where it was found. (Each two page spread has the photo on the right, and on the left, the number, in digits and words, and the location and media. 2nd is "Printed on paper, pasted on steel. Electrical box." Besides cardinal and ordinal numbers, the book includes decimals, percents, prices, and one iconic number: 007 ("Double-O Seven").

Two things happened when I read this book.

1. I said to myself, "I can do that." And then a half a heart-beat later, I said, "I'm going to do that!!" Here is my theme for my photos in 2012: I am going to look for numbers in my environment in all varieties of  media, location, and form. Suddenly, I feel reinvigorated to continue my personal Project 365 for a fourth (FOURTH!!!) year.

2. I wanted to get this pair's book City Alphabet and see what they did with letters and words in a similar format. I will not limit myself to numbers next year, I will also look for words and letters. Maybe. Maybe I need to be patient and stay focused on one theme at a time...hmm...stay tuned for a decision on that one.

by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer
Chronicle Books, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher

Which letter in the alphabet is used with the most frequency?


What happens when E comes down the stairs too fast and breaks her leg?

An E-mergency! E is taken away in the ambulance and A assembles the rest of the alphabet to discuss how they will proceed without the letter E. "Someone is going to have to take the place of E while she gets better. O, you're the obvious option because you're so well-rounded."

This is a VERY punny book. If you don't get that from A's choice of replacement letters, check this out:

I can't wait to share this book with my students. I'll put it under the document camera and we'll study every page for visual and verbal puns. And we'll all laugh when we solve the mystery of why E is not recovering: Who is STILL using Es, even though they've been forbidden so that E can rest and recover??? (oops--so that E can rost and rocovor...)

EDITED TO ADD (in the voices of my students)

This book was really funny!
We enjoyed the book!
The pictures were funny!
The book was really good!
We figured out who was using the letter E!
E never learned her lesson!
The letter O is used for E in this book and that makes the words hard to figure out sometimes.
It's funny that the characters are letters and they sometimes do what their letter says (like...P)!!
The letters sometimes spell funny words like ROAD when they were getting ready to go on a trip or EGGS and OJ when it was breakfast time.
I like how O fills in for E. If that really happened, our names might change!


  1. This is great fun, Mary Lee. What a lot of things to see in this book. I'm also glad you shared about your plan for your mosaic. I didn't know about the comic app. Missed your post then I guess. Thanks!

  2. Tom Lichtenheld is my favorite WI author! Thanks for introducing me to this one.



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