Colorful, approachable illustrations of friendly characters and a focus on fun facts help this picture book transcend its theme about numbers to one about discovering the world around you.
Pebbles is a butterfly who enjoys counting the flowers in his garden, but one day he begins to wonder what other numbers might be out there. He embarks on a journey to talk to different animals about the biggest numbers they know, including a camel in the desert who tells him the core of the sun is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit and an eagle who talks about the 1 septillion stars in the sky.
Other facts are sprinkled throughout the pages, such as how deep dolphins can dive and how much rain falls in rain forests. These facts are presented through thoughtful layouts that enhance the experience, sometimes as comments made by nearby animals, and sometimes as “Did you know?” callouts you might see in a purely nonfiction text.
The illustrations are playful and filled with color and feeling, expertly capturing the drama of a parrot swooping into the frame and the beauty of a nighttime flight over mountaintops. Each full-page spread stands on its own while using color palettes that evolve into the next stage of Pebbles’ adventure.
Pebbles’ quest is simple and, thus, doesn’t involve much emotional investment, but he’s a fun narrator to follow, friendly to those he meets and astounded by all he learns. The asides with extra information serve as conversation starters between young readers and adults while also breaking up the core narrative, which otherwise gets repetitive.
At 42 pages with many pieces of information, Pebbles and the Biggest Number is a lot to digest in one sitting. Many readers—both children and adults—will prefer to break it up across multiple readings. The simplicity of the concept and the enchanting illustrations make this an appealing possibility.