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4.7 out of 5 stars
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Format: Board bookChange
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2010
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes opens with the following lines:

"There was one little baby who was born far away,
and another who was born on the very next day.
And both of these babies--as everyone knows--
had ten little fingers and ten little toes."

The board book continues in parallel rhyming verse, ending each stanza (except the last) with the refrain of the last two lines, "And both of these babies..." The first two lines of each stanza vary throughout the book, however, and refer to babies that differ in myriad ways, including variations on where they were born (in a town, on the ice, in a tent) and the condition of their health (one child suffers from sneezes and chills). Helen Oxenbury's illustrations add to the diversity, portraying boys and girls of widely varying ethnicity.

The only break in this pattern of verse comes in the last stanza, where the baby is described as follows: "But the next baby born was truly divine, a sweet little child who was mine, all mine." Although this baby has ten little fingers and ten little toes, it also has "three little kisses on the tip of its nose." The final image is of a mother lovingly placing these three little kisses.

Several things make this baby board book attractive for young children and adults alike. First, Oxenbury's illustrations are (typically) beautiful. The scenery is colorful and compelling. For example, on the opening page ("There was one little baby who was born far away,") Oxenbury portrays two children on the shores of a lake with a small town and mountains in the distance. The long shadows cast by the children, the orange, purple, and brown hues of the mountains, and the yellow sky all suggest the warm lingering light of sunset. The diverse faces of the babies are also fascinating to look at, and the baby toes are so cute!

Second, Fox's verse is enchanting and funny. The book leaves the reader turning pages expectantly, to see what kind of baby will next be affirmed to have "ten little fingers and ten little toes." The verse makes excellent use of rhyme and repetition, which young children love. The book's refrain ("...ten little fingers and ten little toes.") is as silly and light-hearted as it is true ("Of course they have ten fingers and toes!") and always provokes a smile or giggle. The refrain is also perfect for accompanying gestures involving fingers and toes...fun!

Finally, the last pages of the book provoke a warm emotional connection between caretaker and child that makes the book endearing for both. As I closed the book I imagined a young child's response: "Again, again!"

In addition to its subjective appeal, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes reflects several qualities that make it developmentally valuable. First, the book has a subtle but clear multicultural message, conveyed in language that young children can understand. Specifically, the child is reminded that while human beings are marked by interesting differences, they are also deeply the same. This message comes through brilliantly in the verbal and visual diversity of the children in the book, and the book's unifying rhythmic refrain: we all have fingers and toes. While this multicultural message is complex and abstract to describe, the board book is shockingly successful at communicating it in terms that are concrete and intuitive for young children.

Second, the final focus of the book on the parent-child connection is also developmentally valuable. The special love of a care-taking adult is affirmed, securing the child who is being read to. Despite the portrayal of the beautiful partiality of a parent's love for her child, this affirmation of the parent-child bond also has a hidden universality, i.e., the (near-) universal love of a parent for her child. This too is beautifully securing for a young child. It subtly tells her that her bond with her parent is just as it should be. Thus, this baby board book helps to bond caretaker and child together.

Finally, the beauty and creativity of the book--both in its illustrations and its verse--is developmentally valuable. Such excellence helps to awaken a child's aesthetic sense.

In sum, I highly recommend Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Get a copy of this book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2009
This book is an absolute winner. It is our 5 month old baby's favourite book - he loves talking to the pictures and comparing his hands and feet with those of the babies illustrated. But it is also the favourite book of my niece who is 2 and a 1/2 years old. As the adult reading it, it is just fine too - even 10 times a day! I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2009
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is really a truly delightful book for a very young child and an ideal gift for a new (or not so new )baby. The story is charmingly simple but it's the illustrations that make the book so memorable.
As a grandmother I cannot wait to read this book to my newest grandchild.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2009
A beautiful book both for the reader and the "being read to". Also this book is beautifully illustrated. The child will want this one over and over, and the reader will not tire of reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2014
I don't usually write reviews, but I really wasn't a fan of this book. I like the idea about teaching about diversity and inclusiveness from the beginning, so I guess that's why I'm disappointed with this book conceptually. Not every baby is born with ten fingers and ten toes, so the problem of our diversity is not solved by treating physical 'completeness' as our common denominator. I just felt this didn't actually send the great message it promised...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2009
This is such a lovely book that I've bought my little granddaughters one each! It is simply and beautifully illustrated and just about an ideal length to read out loud. There is plenty for even the littlest ones to identify with - especially when it is clear that the very most special little fingers and toes belong to your own baby.
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Beware - this is no counting book. Not exactly a fast mover, more of a soother and possibly one to please parents more than offspring, but isn't that half the secret of imbuing a love for books, the child's intimation of the cherished adult's pleasure? Oxenbury's one of those unsung stalwarts, like the exuberant Colin MacNaughton, who lit up my children's early years (and mine along with them) and are, happily, still around - and still instantly recognisable! (The other one we (I?) used to like was the late Stephen Cartwright of Usborne books; the others were all loved picture-books of my own chilhood - Ping, Mrs Easter, Ameliaranne, Orlando in pride of place)

NB If you want a fast mover for a two-year-old (or even younger), Clever Bill came out in 1926 and STILL can't be beat - trust me on this
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2009
This is a lovely book, beautifully illustrated by Helen Oxenbury whose drawings have timeless appeal. The text flows well and it was good to read aloud.
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on 16 August 2013
I have a 15 week old baby and have wanted to start introducing her to different cultures and ethnicities from early on. I've bought a few books now and this one is definitely my favourite. What I like best is that the book isn't overtly multicultural, it's just a beautiful story about babies that includes babies from all ethnicities and cultures. The illustrations of the babies are so adorable and the rhyming story is also very sweet. This is now a regular read in my house and I plan to buy many more to use as baby shower gifts.
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on 26 March 2010
I bought this book for my granddaughter some time ago and now that she is nearly two, it is still her favorite book. The simple rhyming language is almost musical and the illustrations fit the words beautifully. My granddaughter has made it an action book as well - when the recurring refrain says "ten little fingers" she enjoys pressing her hands onto the page; and on the page saying "and ten little toes", she puts both feet (preferably barefoot) onto the page!
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