Abigail Author: Catherine Rayner
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Format: Picture Books

Age Range: 3-7 years

Publication Date: September 2013

BISAC: JUV002320

Pages: 32

Book Format Detail: Unjacketed Hardcover

Retail Price: $14.99

ISBN-13: 978-1-58925-147-2

ISBN-10: 1-58925-147-4

Dimensions: 10-1/2" x 10-1/2" x 3/8"

Abigail the giraffe loves counting. One day, she tries to count the spots on her friend Ladybug, but the little bug scurries away. Abigail tries to count Zebra’s stripes and Cheetah’s spots, but her friends just won’t stand still! After several more unsuccessful attempts, Abigail begins to wonder if there’s anything at all that she can count. Then, she has an idea....

September 1, 2013, Kirkus Reviews 

Gorgeous, lush illustrations strengthen a somewhat loosely connected story. Abigail is a giraffe who loves to count. She tries to count the spots on a ladybug, the stripes on a zebra and the splotches on a cheetah. But no one will stay still long enough. Then Ladybug suggests counting a field of flowers, and Zebra and Cheetah offer their help. Abigail finds that her friends are "not very good at counting," so she spends the day teaching them. By the time they get the hang of it, though, darkness has fallen. But all is not in vain. With a dramatic vertical gatefold, Abigail shows them the stars to count. Rayner's sumptuous watercolors both realistically portray the animals (managing to make Abigail endearing as well) and give readers a sense of the evocative atmosphere of the African savanna. Where the book weakens is in its page design and ending. Three double-page spreads, leading readers' eyes backward instead of forward have the unwanted consequence of stalling the page-turns in an already haltingly paced story. The ending, when it arrives, is lackluster and leaves readers with little of the sense of the grandeur the illustrations evoke. A richly illustrated story that could benefit from better page design and crisper storytelling. (Picture book. 3-7). 32pg. 

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November 1, 2013, School Library Journal 

PreS-Gr 1. Abigail, a giraffe, loves to count, but she's having trouble finding something to use for practice. First Ladybug moves, next Zebra eats the leaves, and neither Zebra nor Cheetah can stay still long enough for their markings to be enumerated. Ladybug suggests a field of flowers, but the friends that offer to help are not very good at counting: "'One...two...six...lots!' bellowed Zebra. 'One...three...five... many!' laughed Cheetah." Patiently, Abigail teaches them to count, only to have the sun go down. They're disappointed until, in a vertically unfolding page, she shows them they can tally the stars. The story is simple, with an appropriately brief text that reads aloud smoothly. The counting element is not entirely successful, though, as the counting is done in spurts, often in the middle of a number set. What shines are the illustrations. Rayner imbues her splotchy, impressionistic, watercolor giraffe with personality. The creature's neck often curves along the top of the page, just barely fitting in the frame and bringing her to life. The backgrounds and other animals transport readers to the African savannah, and the twilight wash that darkens to a purple-streaked, star-speckled blue is beautiful to behold. Even the endpapers, covered with giraffe splotches on white, delight the eyes. The exceptional art in this lovely piece of bookmaking carries the story to a higher level.--Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT. 

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August 12, 2013, Publishers Weekly 

Ages 3-7. Rayner, an experienced creator of winsome creatures including Solomon Crocodile and Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn't Fit, imagines a giraffe who loves numbers and wanders the African savannah looking for things to count. Abigail is first seen in an exaggerated double-page close-up that will leave readers feeling they've just gotten a big, sloppy giraffe kiss. Abigail's plans to count things are thwarted by zebras and cheetahs who move too fast to let her count their stripes and spots. They're not great counting assistants, either, but Abigail fixes that. "They practiced all day long until at last their counting was nearly perfect." When night falls, dismay erupts: "How can we count when the sun has set?" A vertical gatefold pointing toward the dark night sky hints at the many shining objects to be counted there. The story is a tad insubstantial, but that won't bother young readers, who will be diverted by the delicious curves of Abigail's long neck, the swooping rhythms of the running cats, and the beckoning reaches of the African veldt. (Sept.). 32p. 


How many counting books can you own? My suggestion is you make room for one more, because Abigail is worth it. She’s trying to count spots and stripes, but her friends keep moving on her. Then there are more issues and it takes some ingenuity before all three friends get together for some counting fun.

The design features giraffe spots on the inside front and back covers, plus there is a special flip up page with a neat surprise inside. Rayner uses warm, soft colors that appeal to the eye and create a calming effect. This would make a nice bedtime book or naptime book.