One Family: Counting & More (plus Giveaway Winners)

With the recent attacks in Paris—and chronic turmoil and violence elsewhere—I’ve been having bleak thoughts about humanity. How is peace possible when people have such deeply-ingrained beliefs and such intolerance for those who don’t share them?

So I wanted to feature a hopeful book.

One Family Cover

At first glance, One Family (Frances Foster Books/FSG, 2015)—written by George Shannon and illustrated by Blanca Gomez—appears to be a simple counting book. It begins with an older woman curled up with a cat and a book:

One is one.
One lamp. One clock.
One book to share.

The next spread features two children on stick ponies:

One is two.
One pair of shoes. One team of horses.
One family.

Here’s three:

One Family Three Spread

One is three.
One house of bears. One bowl of pears.
One family.

And so it continues, to five:

One Family Five

All the way up to ten:

One Family Ten

As you turn the pages, taking in the diverse characters and repeating the “One family” refrain, you begin to see the power of its message. It says (without actually saying it):

People are different. We look different, wear different clothes, partner in different ways. Our families come in all sorts of permutations. We might even believe in different gods, or many gods, or no gods. But look how beautiful we are. Look at how we all get along.

After counting to ten, the book shows a bustling and neighborly street scene—

One Family Conclusion

—and concludes:

One is one and everyone.
One earth. One world.
One family.

Then it resumes its disguise as a counting book with this vibrant spread, offering kids another opportunity to practice counting:

One Family Number Spread

It’s a beautifully conceived and designed book—all the way down to the endpapers. At the front of the book, we see this charming portrait wall.

One Family Front Endpapers

At the end, we see the same wall, but with the characters leaning out to connect with each other.

One Family Back Endpapers

Did I mention how much I love this book?

* * * * * * *

Before I announce the OVER THE RIVER & THROUGH THE WOOD giveaway winners from my last post, let me point you to another place to win a copy. I’ll be visiting The Little Crooked Cottage, a fabulous blog by a trio of talented children’s book authors—Anika Denise, Kara LaReau, and Jamie Michalak—tomorrow (November 18) and we’ll be giving away a copy there. Please stop by!


And so, without further ado, the winners are Rosi Hollinbeck and Cindy Schumerth! Congratulations, and thank you to all who commented!

Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 45 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a how-to guide for picture book writers. Her books have been included on the ‘best of the year’ lists of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and The New York Public Library, among others, and have been translated into many languages.


  1. What a lovely, clever book! Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  2. Thank you for reminding us that there is light in the world. We just have to keep looking for it.

  3. I needed to read a post like this today. And I must add this book to our collection. Thank you, Linda!

  4. This looks like a book to be savored – especially in times like these. Thanks, Linda.

  5. YES! More books like this! Wonderful, sparse text with lots to say. Amazing illustrations! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  6. Congrats to the winners (go Rosi). Love the illustrations. And definitely diverse. I will pop over to Amazon. And tomorrow, I’ll visit the blog you suggested. 🙂

  7. I love so many aspects of this book. Thank you!

  8. The perfect book. Thank you for this uplifting post, Linda. I think we all needed this.

  9. I hadn’t seen this book and am now longing to find it. Thank you for sharing it, Linda.

  10. This is a perfect book to read & share as we focus on our common humanity. Thank you!

  11. Love the ONE FAMILY concept. And the throwback to The Brady Bunch portraits makes me smile! I’ll certainly be picking up a copy of this one!

  12. Oh, I loved this too. Pulling it out today to read it over morning tea…

  13. Oh my gosh, I LOVE this. Sorely needed in these days of horrific headlines! Thanks!

  14. This is definitely a must-have book!!

  15. Beautiful! I have a deep and abiding obsession with endpapers – I love that you included them in the review! Thanks for an uplifting book suggestion.

    • Oh, I agree, Katey. I love how illustrators and designers use the endpapers in such creative ways. You’ll have to check these out–I wasn’t able to include both sides so you’re in for a treat!

  16. Very sweet, and much needed message!

  17. What a beautiful book.

  18. I love George’s work. And especially this book!!

  19. Besides being a great guy, George is a terrific writer. And the illustrations complement the words perfectly. Looks like a wonderful holiday book.

  20. This is wonderful! And thank you for introducing me to the art work of Blanca Gomez–love it!!

  21. Yay! I won! Thank you. Thank you. Very excited here. One Family sounds like an incredible book. I just put it on hold at my library and can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the review.

  22. Beautiful book – thanks for sharing!

  23. I’ve been in conversations all week about the themes in this wonderful book. I’m eager to get my copy. Thanks!

  24. Thanks so much for this post — such beautiful thoughts in response to the tragedies. What a perfect choice! I don’t have kids in my life young enough for a counting book, yet I think I want this one just for myself anyways!

  25. What a terrific example of a simple yet positive and hopeful book. Thanks so much for the post. Bleak thoughts have been permeating my PiBoIdMo efforts too, and this book provides a wonderful example of how to deal with them. As you say, it is also a timely and important reminder of how great humanity can be in terms of recent world events. Many thanks!

  26. I hear you, Julie. It can be challenging to come up with picture book ideas if you’re paying any attention to what’s happening in the world (dystopian YA might be much easier!). But there are definitely signs of beauty out there too. Good luck with your writing!

  27. This book is like a big warm cozy hug!

  28. Thanks for sharing this lovely book! I can’t wait to scoop up a copy. Looking forward to your Little Crooked Cottage visit tomorrow, too.

  29. This book is a MUST for my bookshelf and the elementary school I volunteer at! Thanks for introducing it!

  30. Linda, this book and your Over the River and Through the Wood make a great pair. You were inspired by One Family and I was inspired by your review of it. See here:

  31. I had never even heard about this wonderful book until now. Thanks so much for sharing!

  32. This looks like a wonderful book, Linda. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  33. Linda, I so love this book and the wonderful message of no matter how different people may seem on the outside, we all have hearts that love someone and that want to be loved by someone. I always enjoy your presentations at SCBWI. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂

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