Abigail, a giraffe, simply loves adding up her numbers but keeps encountering difficulties; the leaves she is enumerating get nibbled by her friend Zebra, whilst Cheetah’s spots just whoosh past in a blur. Abigail’s clever friend Ladybird leads them to a meadow full of flowers to count, where the giraffe helps her friends to master 1-10. But as dusk falls will the friends be able to continue to count in the darkness?
The maths of this book work out very well:
Seemingly effortlessly beautiful, fluid illustrations (full of splotches and savannah like colours)
A tale of friendship woven lightly together with a string of numbers
The fun of a fold-out flap (cf Augustus and his Smile, Harris Finds his Feet, and Ernest, also by Rayner)
A lavishly produced physical with its stunning dark blue and gold cover
A dreamy 5* picture book
To find out a little behind the making of this book, you might enjoy the interview with Catherine over on The Book Sniffer’s blog.
For an equally charming take on counting with animals and the majesty of the night sky, pair Abigail up with Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates. Alternatively, you could read Abigail alongside another book about a clever ladybird: What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks.
Inspired by the twinkling heavens in Rayner’s book we explored how we could achieve a similar starry night sky using watercolours and salt (Catherine herself uses a variety of media and methods, including liquid acrylic inks, watercolours, pencil, crayons and silk screen printing).
First the girls did a “wash” with purples and blues, the aim being to go from lighter colours to darker colours.
Once the paper was entirely covered, we went over once more just with water to make sure the paper was quite wet, before sprinkling on large salt crystals.
As the water dried the salt crystals had an effect on the paint; we were aiming for something like the halo effect you can sometimes see around stars (often an effect of filters on cameras/telescopes, apparently).
When the paper was completely dry we rubbed off the remaining salt crystals with a dry cloth, and then used white watercolour to add pinpricks of light at the centre of each star.
Whilst painting we listened to various counting songs including:
Other activities which could work well with reading Abigail include:
When’s the last time you just stared up into a starry sky and watched the stars sparkle at you?
Disclosure: I received a free, review copy of Abigail from the publishers. I was not obliged to write a review and I received no payment for doing so.