Zero

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From School Library Journal

K-Gr 2–Zero has a complex–she finds herself unglamorous. Furthermore, with a hole in her center, she feels she doesn’t count as much as her fellow numbers do. Twisting herself into the shape of 8 or 9 doesn’t work; her attempt only leaves an empty feeling inside. Then in the future, Zero discovers that by joining at the side of another number, 1, for example, she can turn out to be 10, or 100, or 1000, increasing her value. Soon, the others do the same–2 joins 3, 111 joins 5, and 4 and 8 sign up for 2 –escalating their worth and pleasure as well. At last, Zero feels whole, “right in her center.” Otoshi’s story plays out against either stark white or dense black pages where Zero is strikingly depicted in broad silver brush strokes. In contrast, the others numbers cartwheel across the pages in bright splashy colors. Readers swept into the arresting artwork will soon be captivated by the importance of numbers. On the other hand, the underlying mission of the book–to elevate children’s self-worth–will take an intuitive parent or teacher to weave the two concepts together.–Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Zero sees herself as a big round number with emptiness inside. The other, more colorful numbers have fun, and they count. After trying to stretch and pinch herself into another shape (1, 8, or 9) and making a bombastic grand entrance that sends the other numbers tumbling, Zero is ready to listen to some wise words: “‘Every number has value,’ said Seven. ‘Be open. You’ll find a way.’” Inspired, Zero shows the numbers how to “count even more.” With her help, 1 becomes 10, 2 becomes 20, and so forth. Zero realizes her value and feels whole. Whether seen as an introduction to zero or to self-esteem, this picture book delivers on many levels. The simple story and colorful, minimalist art will intrigue children, even those too young to understand every bit of wordplay and wisdom in the text, even as older kids will find food for thought. On the dramatic, black book jacket, the raised letters of the title include Zer in shining silver, and O in a silver that shines and also shimmers with subtle, shifting colors. Every aspect of the book’s illustration and design seems carefully thought out, beautifully executed, and pleasing. An impressive sequel to One (2008). Preschool-Grade 3. –Carolyn Phelan

Zero is a big round number. When she looks at herself, she just sees a hole right in her center. Each day she watches the other numbers line up to count: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . . !” “Those numbers have value. That’s why they count,” she thinks. But how could a number worth nothing turn out to be something? Zero feels empty inside. She watches One having fun with the other numbers. One has bold strokes and squared corners. Zero is big and round with no corners at all. “If I were like One, then I will count too,” she thinks. So she pushes and pulls, stretches and straightens, forces and flattens herself, but in any case she realizes that she can only be Zero. As budding young readers learn about numbers and counting, they are also introduced to accepting different body types, developing social skills and character, and learning what it means to find value in yourself and in others.