William Joyce and Christina Ellis’s (2014) The Numberlys (Moonbot Books) is a strangely enticing read. I absolutely loved William Joyce’s book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (view the animated short film version here), so I was excited to see what he was up to this time.
Readers are introduced to a wordless world, which works for a while: “Everyone liked numbers. They had nice shapes and kept things orderly. And everything added up …” But this numberly world does not allow enough expression. So five friends decide to shake things up a bit and end up producing letters, the alphabet, and, eventually, cool words like jellybeans and pizza. Because of a commitment to change, these friends give meaning to their world by introducing words.
I like the nontraditional, interactive page lay-out (you have to almost flip the book to read the words) and how some of the pages are wordless. I think it’s cool that Joyce and Ellis have readers play around with what it means to ‘read’ a text in a book centered around the power of letters and words. Also, I love, love, love color, so I really like when the book’s illustrations change from sepia to full color.
A quirky book, The Numberlys is a perfect read-aloud for elementary school kids.