Book: How Many Jelly Beans?: A Giant Book of Giant Numbers
Author: Andrea Menotti
Illustrator: Yancey Labat
Age Range: 2-6
I'm not much of a reviewer of "concept books". But I have to say that I really enjoyed How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti. It's a big, bold number book, with a delightful surprise at the end. How Many Jelly Beans? is over-sized at close to 11" by 17". The early pages feature two kids, Emma and Aiden, who are each given the choice to select a number of jelly beans. Emma starts out wanting ten, and ten colored jelly beans are shown in the palm of her hand. But then Aiden asks for twenty, and the competition is on. Each kid asks for an increasingly larger number, with that number illustrated each time, right up until the two kids collectively agree that the proper number of jelly beans is ... a million. A 10-sheet fold-out section, covered with tiny jelly beans (they look like colored dots) is the result.
The first time I read this book, I responded like a little kid myself. "Oh my gosh, that's what a million tiny jelly beans looks like. They are actually showing me a million of something. So very cool!" Baby Bookworm (age 2) LOVED it. She likes the "dots", as she thinks of the jelly beans, and the way that the book folds out, so that you can (carefully) sit on the resulting multi-page mat. She later saw the book in my "to be reviewed" stack, and demanded it immediately ("Dots! Dots!"). That's her highest recommendation.
Yancey Labat's cartoon-like illustrations of Emma and Aiden, and Emma's dog, are fun throughout. The kids are shown in black and white, with their dialog in bubbles, surrounded by plenty of white space. Most of the book's color comes from the jelly beans, which gets smaller in size and larger in quantity as the book progresses. The jelly beans are sometimes shown in the form of numbers (that is, the number 1000 made up of, presumably, 1000 jelly beans, for example), and sometimes in other shapes.
Menotti and Labat also illustrate the concept of division, as when Emma points out that to eat 1000 jelly beans in a year, Aiden would only have to eat two or three per day. This is shown via a set of calendar pages, with two or three jelly beans in each box. Simple but brilliant.
If you are looking for a book for preschoolers that conveys the concept of large numbers, How Many Jelly Beans? is an excellent choice. It's bright and creative, and the foldout section is a wonderful surprise. Libraries will need to be cautious with this one, of course, due to both the unusual size of the book and the risks of tearing of the pullout section. But for use at home or at a preschool, How Many Jelly Beans? is sure to please. With it's large size, it would make a nice birthday gift, too.
Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: February 29, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).