Jacey’s Epic Love of Picture Books: #26!


The Numberlys, by William Joyce and Christina Ellis.

We’re now in the very final stretch of my little epic month of picture books, and I have to say, I’ve saved some of the best for last.

And if there is any book that I think could stand as a companion to my beloved Animalia, it is The Numberlys. (Unsurprisingly enough, as I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think William Joyce is a genius.)

It begins with vertically-aligned pages in stark black and white:

“Once upon a time there was no alphabet. Only numbers. Everyone liked numbers. They had nice shapes and kept things orderly. And everything added up… So life was sort of… Numberly.”

But even amidst all of this order, something is missing. And I bet you can guess what it is. :)

With the alphabet comes colour. Comes art.

Words bring the world out from the grey.

I’ve seen some concern that the concept — words versus numbers — might be a bit much for a children’s book, might go over kids’ heads, but I would have to disagree. William Joyce knows kids, and he knows how to approach them.

And even they don’t get every single nuance of the concept itself, the book still has appeal. The character designs are as kid-friendly as they come, and the art is engaging.

Kids will like the story, and will internalise its message whether or not they fully understand it.

The act of reading to them alone will help them internalise its message.