Book Review: Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Book Ever

Today’s book is a lovely, giant counting book from the ever-amazing and lovable Richard Scarry. This beauty is from 1975 and is not your average counting book. Mr. Scarry believed in taking counting to the next level as we count along with the BusyTown gang not just from one to ten, but all the way to one hundred. Here is Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Book Ever, 1975.

I must be honest with the full reason I chose this particular book for this particular day. I love this book and would be willing to share it any time; but today, the whole reason is because of the last page.

Scarry 9

Stunning as that spread is on its own, it also allows me to symbolize and celebrate something wonderful on this children’s book blog… my one hundredth post! I saw it only fitting to mark this numerically special post with a spectacular numerical specimen, made out of fireflies no less. Thanks for reading along and I hope to have several hundreds more!

So, now that we’ve seen the end, let’s go back to the beginning. If you aren’t familiar with Richard Scarry, BusyTown, and all his marvelously anthropomorphic animals; then I’m going to question your childhood. Ok, not really; but I do have many fond memories of these busy, yet friendly characters from my childhood. And this book is overflowing with numbers upon numbers of them all, beginning actually, with the end papers.

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If that doesn’t tell you that this book is awesome, I don’t know what does.

The story opens with Willy Bunny in search of something to do because no one is around to play. His father, being a smart and encouraging dad, suggests Willy count everything he sees today and then he can tell his dad all about them at supper. Excited by the prospect, Willy begins by counting himself, one bunny.

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And on he goes one through ten, grabbing some friends along the way. The counting is not without adventure either. The crew is interrupted at six by firefighters flying by to the Cat family’s house where seven cats are fleeing the flames.

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Thankfully, all goes well and Willy resumes his counting during the cleanup and then he has a little recap of one through ten. Oh, but we aren’t done yet.

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On through the teens he goes, looking for those bigger numbers including chickens, musicians, airplanes and the most giant hot dog you’ve ever seen eaten by nineteen very hungry pigs! Once he finds twenty, the fun really starts. Here Willy starts counting by tens! Thirty children coming home from school start him off.

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He counts boats, frogs, and even some lovely flowers; until he is busily counting all the workers coming home and one stops at his front door for supper. His father of course! Over their meal (which is also counted), Willy recounts his numerical day and they end the evening back where we started, with the great assortment of fireflies showing off their counting ability too!

Whew! This book is in a league of its own with counting extravaganza. I love that it isn’t just a counting book which, truth be told, can become very boring to read again and again. This one actually involves a story as well as lots of drama. But the real winner here is, of course, Scarry’s impeccable art. The man had such a way with his animals, really bestowing them with human characteristics and charm. He also was a wonder at drawing everything, down to the tiniest detail, with great accuracy. Although it is hard to tell from my pictures, this book is rather large, measuring 10″ x 12.” It is incredible how much work and enjoyment he must have pored into every page of his creations. So many characters and side stories. It reminds me a little of the Where’s Waldo books in that respect. There is just so much to see and find with every read.

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Richard McClure Scarry was born in Boston and after serving in World War II, he worked freelance for several magazines until the 1950s when Little Golden Books took notice. In 1963 he created one of his first big successes, Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. Familiar right? It is just as awesome and has been loved and enjoyed by many children, who happen to be learning a great deal while being incredibly amused. Scarry passed away in 1994, but his legacy lives on, not only in his over 300 children’s books, but also with his son, Richard Scarry Jr., who has taken up his own illustrating with a similar style and often publishes under the name “Huck Scarry” after one of Scarry’s most seen characters, Huckle Cat.

I hope this first of March finds you counting the days til Spring and maybe noticing a few things amidst your day that you’ve never stopped to count before. Although hopefully you don’t see a giant hot dog being devoured by pigs, unless it is the one in this book, of course!

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Book Ever

  1. Congratulations on your 100th post!! You are doing a fabulous job:)

    Richard Scarry is a perennial fav at our house. My daughter is 4 and she gets a huge kick out of his crazy contraptions like the pickle car and Lowly’s apple car. Clumsy Mr. Frumbles and the inept Mr. Fixit are much beloved by her as well. These books ALWAYS make me smile, no matter how gloomy the day or the mood.


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