Kids Can Press, 2019. Hardcover Picture Book, 32 pp.
“I had wanted to write a book about numbers for a while and as I joked about how “1 elephant on your head is a lot but 2 is too much,” I thought maybe I could write a story that would expand a reader’s conception of numbers—something less pedagogical and something more philosophical.” — Mượn Thị Văn
Mượn Thị Văn wanted to offer a different kind of counting book, and she’s achieved it. It really is like few other counting books. Here, context matters and quantity is not a hard and fast rule. And the author’s offering involves humor, and a sweet twist there at the end.
Pratt’s illustrations bring movement and energy to the page. And where Mượn Thị Văn is removing hard lines from mathematical concepts, Pratt’s illustrations are also more fluid and generous; shifting perspectives with the context at hand, zooming in and out. The two work together to layer ideas. The acorn, a major character is often both a lot and not; it can be both small and big. And the “One Hello” that is “a lot” means even more at the end when you realize who the parents are under the tree (that you watched grow).
One is a Lot (Except When It’s Not) is an intelligent book, playful and accessible. It’s an absolute must; allow it to inspire further observations of what is a lot (except when it’s not).
Brought to Mind: One Family by George Shannon, Illus. Blanca Gomez. You are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, Illus. Christopher Wyant. A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems.