by Betsy Franco

Scholastic, $14.99, 24 pages

When autumn arrives, trees lose their leaves, revealing bare branches. Author Betsy Franco, in her new book. Zero is the Leaves on the Tree, celebrates the number zero with the goal of explaining its meaning. Zero is everywhere. How do you help a child understand the concept of nothing? When everyone is playing catch at recess, zero is the number of balls left in the bin. Shino Arihara’s illustrations deserve an award. They are breathtakingly beautiful, some of the best this reviewer has ever seen. In his multicultural cast of kids, he captures the essence of childhood through their rosy cheeks and inquisitive expressions. Franco’s book provides lessons on counting, seasons, critical thinking, patterns, friendship, nature, and, of course, the difficult idea of zero. Take reading comprehension a step further and have your child tell you why zero plays such a crucial role in each page. For example, why is zero the number of ducks on the pond when the air says winter is coming? How many ducks will be in the water in spring? Why do zero snowflakes stay on your mitten? Could you keep it on there without it melting? Treat your family or students to this stunning book. You’ll have zero regrets.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin