Friday, July 27, 2018

Sixes and Sevens by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake

The serendipity of book discovery can be such fun.  I am currently reading Bookworm - a memoir of childhood reading by Lucy Mangan.  In this book Lucy traces her reading journey from her earliest memories and in chapter 2 "To the Library" she mentions Quentin Blake and his connection with John Yeoman : "he asked a friend of his, John Yeoman, if he would write a book that Blake could illustrate."  It was called A Drink of Water.

Lucy Mangan goes on to say: "His drawings' sense of movement, the energy alone, makes them compelling."  This book is certainly filled with that energy.

I picked up several books by John Yeoman including this one - Sixes and Sevens which was first published in 1971. Here is a page with all of their collaborations.

This is a counting book but it is so much more. It is about problem solving and community.  It is a book filled with the crazy fun and mayhem that is sure to happen if you fill a raft with ever increasing numbers of animals and people. Kirkus use the perfect term "chaos".

Rafting down the river Barnaby stops at each village in Limber Lea to see if there is anything to transport. His mother says "and remember to look in your big box if you have any difficulties."  The river looks idyllic on this opening scene but the first hint of trouble is not far away. Barnaby takes a kitten on board but how will she cope with the next two passengers - mice!

Here is the final passenger list
1 kitten
2 mice
3 school mistresses
4 school boys
5 monkeys
6 parrots
7 dogs
8 snakes
9 frogs
and 10 grasshoppers

Perhaps you can guess some the difficulties and disruptions from this mixed bunch which grows bigger with each page. It would be fun to fill your own raft with different animals and humans and then design something to put inside the big box to help keep the peace.

Read this review from The Bookbag. When you first look at this book it would be good to have investigation of the term "sixes and sevens" and then discuss why this is an utterly perfect title. There should be a place in all classrooms, from Kindergarten up to Grade 3, for this joyous book.

Image from Quentin Blake

I plan to read lots more books by this team.  I have time on on my list which might be a good companion book to Sixes and Sevens.

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