Review Blog

Jan 07 2020

Three by Stephen Michael King

cover image

Scholastic, 2019. ISBN: 9781760664053. 32pp.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. In a world where he sees creatures with two legs or four or six and eight, even twelve, Three hops and skips through life, wondering at the creatures he sees, hoping that they stay safe in the city where he lives.
He is pleased that those with six legs live underground away from the stamping feet, happy for the eight legs to live in webs above the traffic; he is thankful he has no more legs than he can count, and is happy his legs are no longer than they need be.
But one day he skips out of the city to a place where there are fewer cars and here he finds animals with four legs and two horns, a bird with two legs that lays eggs, a furry animal with two large ears and even larger feet. But his best find is Fern a girl who gets down on her hands and knees and lifting one arm, pretends to have three legs, just like Three. She introduces him to other creatures he has not seen before: a hopping two legs, a flying four legs and even a no legs. Fern takes him inside to meet her mother and brother and together they make four.
This is a gloriously endearing book, one that will make every reader feel warm inside.
The story of friendship is outstanding. Fern and her family take Three in without question, he readily becomes part of the family, eating pancakes on Saturday, dressing up with the brother and singing with Fern. He has filled a spot in their lives just as he has found a family to call his own. And the rounding off of his three legs to make a foursome is a wonderful image for the readers to think about.
Counting the legs on the animals will tickle younger readers, as they take in Three's lack of a fourth leg, noting that he can do what he wants without the benefit of a fourth leg. They will thrill at the creatures in the story, working out what animal they may be from the number of legs, taking note of where they live.
King's detailed streetscapes, reflect the city through buildings and cars and people, but also the little animals that Three spots under the gaze of the people walking by. It begs the readers to look more closely at their environment, urging them not to miss things that are going on beneath their feet. In the country setting too, readers will begin to notice more than the text offers as they peruse each page more closely.
This multi-layered story with its wonderfully evocative watercolour illustrations, will be a often repeated read-aloud in homes, classrooms and libraries.
Themes: Dogs, Friendship, Legs, Family, Counting, Animals, Cities, Disability.
Fran Knight

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