…how could a number worth nothing becoming something?
Following One, her acclaimed picture book on bullying, Otoshi yet again gives life to numbers in Zero. Comparing itself to the other vibrant-looking numbers that have their own unique sets of characteristics, Zero sees herself as only big and round and empty inside. Zero wants desperately to count like the other numbers and add her own value.
Abounding in white space, Otoshi’s delicate illustrations in this contemporary picture book help the numbers take on lives of their own. Her use of clever word play (“if she could impress the numbers, that’d give her value”; Eight and Nine were numbers with value. Of course they’d count”) reinforces Zero’s anxiety while keeping pace with her efforts to be like the other numbers (“So Zero twisted and turned to try to be Eight”) until Seven reminds her that every number has value if it’s open, and that “it’s what’s inside that counts most.”
While this book may be used as a number and colour book for young children, it also communicates two ageless, universal messages. It shows readers that everyone counts, and that being open to trying can help themselves and others feel whole. This book will surely touch readers of any age.
Check out the interview that Time for Kids had with Otoshi.
Read the Publishers Weekly book review on Zero.