Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 billion

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Book Review, Non-Fiction, Picture Book

Everybody Counts (cover)

Book Details

Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 billion
Kristin Roskifte. London: Wide Eyed Editions, hb. 978 0 7112 4523 5, 2020, £12.99, 64pp.
Non-fiction, picture book, 4-8 years

Is it really a picture book? The sub title tells the reader it is A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion. This is quite a claim.

Moving through the pages that are increasingly populated not with random objects or animals, but with people all involved in everyday life the reader begins to feel rather overwhelmed – or maybe underwhelmed; there is, perhaps, an apparent lack of variety or is there? Accompanying each scene there is not just a record of the number to be seen, but an account breaking down the group. For everyone is doing something different, travelling somewhere different, wearing different costumes. What is going on? And what is the author/illustrator trying to do?

The artwork is intriguing and the text seems to be inviting the viewer to identify or find the various protagonists. This is a concept familiar from the Where’s Wally adventures, where the spreads teem with variety However, here the artist’s intention seems to be to emphasise the similarity even apparent anonymity of humans in a crowd and her art work certainly suggests this.

It is an attractive style, the images stand out against the white background, but it is not easy to identify individuals. There is a certain lack of excitement to grab the attention. But perhaps this is the point. At the end of the book the reader will find further explanatory text for each and every spread and can realise that there is indeed a thread linking them. There is also a spread picking out details and encouraging the reader to imagine a story – who, why, what… this is clearly not a picture book for the kinder box but perhaps one that might encourage thought and discussion in a classroom around the concepts of similarity and difference,  individuality and connections together with an apparent anonymity.

Everyone counts. It is an interesting idea elegantly executed but not entirely successful.


Review by FMH