Who Counts?: Book Review

Who Counts? Book ReviewThree mini stories that have a common theme. Have you lost something? And what have you done to find it?

Title: Who Counts?: 100 Sheep, 10 Coins, and 2 Sons
Author: Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Illustrator: Margaux Meganck
ISBN: 9780664262747          Language: English

Title: ¿Quién cuenta?: 100 Ovejas, 10 Monedas y 2 Hijos          ISBN: 9780664264062         Language: español / Spanish

Classification: Fiction
Themes: bible retelling, importance, family

What’s it about?
This is really three stories together with one leading into the next. The first story is about a man with 100 hundred and when he counts them one day 1 is missing. He leaves his flock to find the one missing sheep and then throws a party. This leads to story two about a lady who has 10 drachma and one day discovers that 1 is missing. She cleans and tidies her house until the missing coin is found. Story three is about a man with two sons. He divides his fortune evenly between them before 1 son works hard throughout the time while the other spends lavishly and returns penniless. The man then throws the younger son a party but realises the older son is missing.

The stories do flow well from one to the next and once you are at the end the connection between them becomes clear. The illustrations are lovely – not too cutesy – and convey the story well with a diverse range of ethnic characters shown. It sort of includes teaching notes.

The moral is….lost?

Who Counts? My Thoughts
When I first started reading this one I didn’t actually know it was based on biblical teachings but having been raised in a very religious household even I spotted the bible stories. If you are looking for an easy way to retell the stories to your children in an easy to understand way – this book may be your thing – but for me I still even now take issue with what the stories are supposed to teach. Now I will probably take a more literal approach here because the tone is aimed at children.

For example, let’s look at story 1: Parable of the Lost Sheep. The man tends well to his 100 sheep – that makes him conscientious and caring but he leaves them (unattended for all the reader is aware) to go and find the 1 lost sheep. Imagine if in a class of 30 students I found 1 was missing – would it be wise for me to forsake the 29 to find the 1? Raising awareness that 1 is missing – definitely – but ensuing the ones that are safe – remain safe – is that not just as important as the one who wandered off? And why reward that 1 sheep for basically doing the wrong thing?


Who Counts?

Moving on to story 2: Parable of the Lost Coin. This one to me is an odd story. Like the previous one she carefully

keeps track of her possessions – her 10 coins. When 1 goes missing she has a major clean up and finds it – so far this parable is fine with me…but then she throws a party – huh? For finding a lost coin? Would she not just have spent what she found?

And story 3: Parable of the Prodigal Son. This story always rubbed me the wrong way. 1 son is diligent and works hard while the other squanders his entire fortune. Son 2 then returns home and the father is so happy to see him he gives his son new clothes and throws him a party….Why? This son showed he was wasteful and thought only of himself. He came home (supposedly to work) but instead his father just gives him stuff. To me this story always sent the wrong message – he doesn’t earn anything – would he truly have learnt his lesson?

If you look at these from a religious perspective it is highly likely you may interpret the stories very differently from me but I just can’t get past the point that this is simply worded – very accessible for children – but what would a child take away from it? To look for what is lost? Or be rewarded for…wandering off or wasting money?

The translation into Spanish is well done and it is good to see that the publishers have made the effort to make the book diverse and accessible.

Amy-Jill Levine

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

Margaux MeganckSpecial thanks to Flyaway Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review.

What do you think?