Learning numbers can be silly fun

Learning to count can be loads of fun, especially with a silly picture book to guide the way. “Flooky Dooky & Friends Count to 10” (Barnes & Noble Press) by Hooman Altafi is one such book. Populated by all manner of wacky-looking doodle-y creatures, it’s an imaginative take on a standard-bearer of early childhood learning.

Flooky Dooky and his friends are having trouble figuring out how to describe what they look like in terms of numbers. And they need your help. Flooky Dooky isn’t sure how many legs he has (well, it’s one leg ... looking a bit like the trunk of a tree, but instead of leaves, Flooky has a fluffy body like pink cotton candy). The Miro-inspired, duck-like Wappy Drappy needs help counting his bulbous arms. A blue cloud creature named Wiggly-Woo needs help with his toes, while the jelly-bean-bodied Panbu-Panbu needs help with his fingers. Jukey-Dookey the wingless bird has an explosion of colorful tail feathers, so it’s no surprise he’s lost count.

The creatures’ names are as fun to say aloud as the counting itself, making this book a delightful bedtime story for toddlers and preschoolers. I can imagine coming up with goofy voices to accompany each character — and maybe some creative movement mimicking the bizarre anatomies — to really push the silliness quotient over the top.

A PICTURE BOOK THAT’LL GET HEAVY ROTATION

At the end of the book, there is a review section where you can count one Flooky Dooky, four Wappy Drappies, six Wiggly-Woos, and so forth. It’s not just a great way to check your child’s progress in counting; you can also test for recall of the names of each of the creatures. And by the third or fourth read, don’t be surprised if your child remembers them all. There are even some fun activity pages that encourage children to color, write and draw in the book (you just know they’re going to do that anyway, so why not?).

In the book’s introduction, the author describes how “Flooky Dooky & Friends Count to 10” was road-tested quite thoroughly with his own kids: “I wrote this book and created the characters for my kids when they were toddlers. I wanted them to have a fun way to learn to count. They loved the characters so much, they would have me read it to them 4 to 5 times a night. They learned their numbers rather quickly.” Always a sign you’re on to something good!

By the way, if you’re looking to teach your little ones some Spanish, Altafi has you covered; he’s currently working on a version of the book en espanol. Also planned is a book to help kids learn the next level of the numbers game — Mr. BlumBlum Boo and Friends Add Numbers. In the meantime, there’s little doubt that bringing “Flooky Dooky & Friends Count to 10” into your household will pave the way for silly fun with your young ones that they’ll likely remember for years to come.

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