Vintage Finds: count and see

Burgin Streetman
February 12, 2009


If you are familiar with the works of Tana Hoban, then you already know how totally cool they are. An artist and a photographer, she used her knack for composition with a camera to create kids' books that very much capture the essence of the era. Her books use inner-city graffiti, cute retro kids in bell bottoms, lines of trash cans and other ordinary objects to portray concepts like colors/shapes, push/pull and, in this case, numbers. That pseudo-modern feel of the seventies is abundant, while the black and white photographs are filled with nooks and crannies that make the moments come alive.

In her book count and see published in 1972, a slice of watermelon shows 20 black seeds, stark against the white of the inside flesh. Nine fireman's hats lined up -- each marked LADDER 9 -- make counting a part of everyday life. One fire hydrant creates a single digit that stands out, alone on the street. An artist in the truest sense of the word, the woman spent the last 23 years of her life living in Paris and was sister to writer Russell Hoban who created the popular series Frances based loosely on the lives of his own children.

count and see is still in print, but as always, there are vintage copies a plenty to be had if you are willing look around!

Burgin Streetman lives in Texas with her husband and three-year-old son and writes daily about vintage children's books at Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves and life's little highs and woes at Scribbling in San Antonio.



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