Title: Pebbles and the Biggest Number
Author: Joey Benun
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Pebbles is a curious butterfly who has grown bored of counting the same number of flowers in his garden. He knows there must be larger digits out there and wonders what the biggest number in the world is. His quest takes him fluttering into the desert, rainforest, beach, and mountains to try and find out.
Pebbles and the Biggest Number is a delightful book that has equal appeal for a parent/carer to read with a preschooler and also for an older child beginning early education to read solo. Indeed, this is a children’s picture book that will maintain interest across early years.
The cover is immediately attractive. Bright and bold without being too busy, it grabs attention and it’s instantly apparent to both adults and children what the book will be about.
Pebbles is a strong motif who is relatable and recognizable. The orange with brown outlining used for his coloring gives a good, sharp contrast to the rest of the graphics, which have vivid primary and pastel shades. He catches the eye making him addictively easy to follow.
The book begins with Pebbles in his garden. The artwork is beautiful and richly colored, making it visually tactile without becoming overwhelming. There are lots of subtle illustrative extras which afford scope for further discussion and story-building in addition to the central concept of discovering big numbers.
In each landscape, Benun and his illustrator, Laura Watson, have included differing amounts of the same thing, trees, flowers, or animals, to encourage basic counting in every scene.
The main text gently outlining Pebbles’s journey is carefully placed on the plain, lighter background in the top left-hand corner and it contains just the right amount of basic narrative.
As Pebbles arrives at his different destinations searching for his big number, the pages become more informative. Not only in relation to the increasing numbers that Pebbles finds but Benun introduces separate text boxes with bite-sized scientific facts relating to the ecosystem or inhabitants of each region.
These little snippets graphically work very well and contextually have been nicely chosen. They are unusual enough to pique interest yet simple enough to remember and can be explored as a side story to Pebbles’ number search.
The pictures really pop with some delightfully lovely artwork and lovably drawn characters, perfectly tapping into a child’s curiosity about different environments and what they might contain.
Benun’s gentle enthusiasm for the subject matter shines through. There is a genuine feeling that although the book is aimed at young children, that does not make them incapable of having an interest in, or understanding math concepts that are not usually found in a book for this age range.
He has carefully considered how best to articulate math and science so a child comprehends but is also entertained and involved. Consequently, Benun has factored in a deft twist when Pebbles finds his ultimate number.
A couple of pages include speech bubbles, and they make the layout appear cluttered, and the scene in the laboratory seemed sudden and slightly misplaced. Also, it could be argued “Ms. Butterfly,” whom Pebbles meets at the end, should have had a better moniker or been omitted altogether.
Regardless, Benun guarantees all content is consolidated in two end pages with beautifully simple illustrations and precisely relatable examples to easily demonstrate the size of the numbers that Pebbles discovered.
Joey Benun has produced an adorable children’s picture book wonderfully complemented by vibrantly lovely illustrations. Fun, educational, and creative with a charmingly sweet main character, Pebbles and the Biggest Number deserves to be a firm favorite.
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