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Children's Fiction Counting & Numbers

One Hungry Heron

by (author) Carolyn Beck

illustrated by Karen Patkau

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Jun 2023
Counting & Numbers, General, General
Recommended Age
3 to 6
Recommended Grade
p to 1
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2023
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2014
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


One hungry heron,
tall and still,
crooks her leg
and tips her bill.
Two drowsy catfish,
way down deep,
snuffle through the muck,
then go to sleep.
Three darting dragonflies
hover and dip.
Whiz! Pause! Whiz!
Zoom! Zoom! Zip!

The scene starts out quietly enough, but soon the lone heron is joined by two lazy catfish and three darting dragonflies. Before you can say ten tiny turtles, the pond is alive with a great array of wetland wildlife.

Told in clever rhyme, this is a counting book with a difference. Numbers are spelled out in bold text, decorated numerals adorn each page, and amounts are depicted by groupings of swimming, flapping, paddling, darting pond creatures. Up to ten and down again, the count goes forwards and backwards, as thunder rumbles in the background. Plip, plop, the rain begins and lightning flashes. Everything dives for shelter and stays hidden — until the sun comes out. Then life returns to the pond providing a delightful search and count last page.

Rarely is so much delivered in one spectacular counting book.

About the authors

After winning a prize for her story “Petulia, the Petunia,” in grade three, Carolyn Beck knew she wanted to write, but it wasn’t until she grew up and had a family of her own that she truly pursued this career path. Previous titles include The Waiting Dog, Buttercup’s Lovely Day, Richard Was a Picker, and Wellington’s Rainy Day. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Carolyn Beck's profile page

KAREN PATKAU has been writing and illustrating picture books, with a focus on nature and non-fiction, for more than thirty years. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Memorial Medal for her first book, Don’t Eat Spiders by Robert Heidbreder, and since then her titles have appeared on lists including Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award finalists, Green Book Festival Award finalists, Ontario Library Association Best Bets and White Ravens selections. Karen has also illustrated Forest: A See to Learn Book. She lives in Toronto.


Karen Patkau's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Beck's unique take on the conventional counting book is filled with beautifully descriptive imagery that brings to life each creature using simple words and short poems. . . The cadence of each animal perfectly suits its actions, and evokes the rhythm of each creature for young readers.

"The colourful collage illustrations by Patkau will provide hours of absorbed study, with realistic details. . . The best counting books are those that encourage the child to participate in the process, and One Hungry Heron succeeds in spades with a search-and-find technique."
Canadian Children's Book News

"Counting book, vocabulary builder, nature book and more, One Hungry Heron is one of this year's absolute must-buys by early years/elementary school libraries and public libraries.
Highly Recommended."
CM Magazine

"If you're fortunate to have a cottage near water or access to a marshy area or pond, One Hungry Heron should accompany you and your littlest ones on your next trek there in off-winter seasons. Carolyn Beck's newest book, expertly illustrated by Karen Patkau who excels at capturing the natural world in digitally-created collages. . . Coupled with the distinct textures and subtle colours within the vegetation, water and substrates of Karen Patkau's collages, One Hungry Heron is a fluid visual and auditory composition linking outdoor scenes familiar to many Canadians with basic counting by one's, forwards and back."
CanLit for LittleCanadians

"One Hungry Heron is spectacular in its ability to capture and convey the essence of ten animal species through vibrant illustrations and poetic verse."
SB&F (Science Books & Films)

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