A cogent message of love and acceptance is portrayed through the spare language and delicate watercolor illustrations of this diverse picture book. Children playing in a park gradually join together to form a single playful “circle,” the backgrounds a muted sepia around each new addition—until they join the fun. Body diversity—one boy arrives with a service dog; a little girl has hearing aids—and multiple ethnicities are represented without being remarked upon, making this a subtle, unifying text.
This warm-hearted playground-set concept book focuses on circles and on counting from one to ten. “Once circle. . . bounces! Two circles. . . roll!” Warm-toned, digitally colored ink illustrations depict a child bouncing a basketball and another cycling up on a two-wheeler. More friends appear, each shown with a circular or spherical item. Some of these items are toted (hula hoops, flying discs), some are built into the playscape (climbing rings, sprinkler heads), and all are intended for cooperative enjoyment. After we get to ten circles—in the form of festively decorated cookies—the count returns to the beginning. The children join hands as “one circle gathers. One circle opens. One circle grows. Circle Round.” The message of inclusion, underscored by the illustrations casual diversity in characters’ skin tones, ethnicities, genders, and abilities, is clear for very young children—all of whom would likely be welcomed enthusiastically into this circle of friends.
—The Horn Book
One basketball, two bicycle wheels, three hula hoops, four frisbees, and other circular objects up to 10 provide children of varying skin tones, genders, and abilities the chance to interact through play in this lively counting book. Emphasizing circular objects’ ability to connect individuals, Cha’s digitally colored ink illustrations juxtapose smudgy, sepia-toned scenes of solo kids on a playground with chromatic depictions of a growing group’s energetic exploits. On one page, a light-skinned child using a wheelchair sits alone on a splash pad among six fountain discs—a scene that gains full color when more children join in the fun. Past 10, a circle of smiling children “gathers,” “opens,” and “grows,” simply showcasing the shape’s—and children’s—ability to expand and include.