Tip Counts to Ten by Lisa van Klaveren
Tip is a farm dog, a Border Collie, who works on his master’s New Zealand farm, looking after 100 calves. Part of Tip’s job is to bring the babies in to feed. Ten at a time. Tip always gets it right, bringing in 10, never nine or eleven. Until one day, Tip only brings nine calves in before running away.
Based on a true story, Tip Counts To Ten retells retired Kiwi farmer Cliff Lakey’s tale about his dog Tip and his remarkable ability to count calves. Lakey wrote the story out for author Lisa van Klaveren’s children before she remastered it into this picture book.
It’s a great tale, with readers following Tip as he rounds up only nine calves one morning. Without direction from Lakey, Tip went and found the calf, alerted his master and kept the baby safe from harm until it could be rescued.
The layout of the book was a little confusing to start with. It won’t grab the attention of children immediately, as they are confronted with seven pages of plain text at the beginning. Van Klaveren’s and Leitch’s biographies are the first thing you’ll see upon opening the cover. This is followed by not one but two title pages, a dedication page, acknowledgements, and a brief introduction from Lakey and van Klaveren, as well as another quote from Lakey. Most of those pages could have been moved to the back or combined to make it more appealing for the target audience.
Persevere through the visually unappealing however, and you’ll be rewarded with a simple, sweet story about man’s best friend.
Van Klaveren uses simple sentences and rhyme to convey a story packed full of emotion. It has a simple rhythm but doesn’t skimp on complex language structures or words.
Bright illustrations by artist Marilyn Leitch accompany the book and bring Tip’s tale to life. They are simple, yet incredibly detailed. The final page hints at the words, which makes for a great conversation starter with younger children. What did Tip get as a special treat?
Perhaps unintentionally van Klaveren has created a simple read that would make for a great reading comprehension resource. Children can practice inference, sequencing and prediction easily together with an older reader. It lends itself to lots of questioning.
This deceptively simple book has lots of potential. A cute wee story about a remarkable man’s best friend.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Olympia Publishers, RRP $9.99