Everybody Counts by Kristin Roskifte

Everybody Counts is more than a counting book: it includes big numbers and big thoughts.

Everybody Counts: a Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion by Kristin Roskifte. Magicon Fortag (Wide-Eyed Editions), 2020, 56 pages. (Originally published in Norway, 2018)

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: all ages

We start with “no one.” No people, that is, just a monochrome bucolic landscape. Then, “One person. He is lying in bed counting his heartbeats. He wonders how many people are looking at the same stars right now.” Next page: “Two people in a forest. One of them says something the other will remember for the rest of his life.” The other is the little boy who was in bed, counting heartbeats.

Next page: “3 people on a podium. 2 of them are thrilled to be in the top 3.” It’s easy to see which one is not thrilled by the expression on his face. But then: “4 people in a band. One is a twin. One of them is thinking about her daughter’s birthday present. One of them will be injured soon.” Wow, how can we tell? By spotting these same people in other situations with 6, 10, 20, or 45 people and tracking their stories. At 1000, we jump to a view of Earth from space. “Seven and a half billion people on the same planet. Every single one of them has their own story. Everybody counts. One of them is you!”

It doesn’t end there. Two pages of questions challenge readers to find individual people and their clues. The final spread tells the story of each picture and answers the clues given in the text. Characters are distinguished by coloring, clothes, posture, and expression, so it’s a simple matter to find them again if you pay attention. Thus, this is much more than a counting book: it’s also a questions book, a puzzle book, a search book, and (by the end) a philosophy book, with 1000 people watching for a comet. “None of them knows for sure what the meaning of life is.”

(Do you? If you don’t, can you prove that “Everybody Counts”?)

Even if we’re pretty sure what the meaning of life is, there’s a lot here to ponder, even on a four-year-old level. People make the world, in their variety, activity, and interconnectedness. As a plus, the content is family-positive.

Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 4
  • Artistic/literary value: 5

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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