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Joey Benun
Pebbles and the Biggest Number
Joey Benun, author
Pebbles the butterfly travels the world in search of the biggest number, asking every animal he meets.
Pebbles the butterfly loves to count the flowers in his garden, but when he gets tired of the same small numbers, he goes on a quest to find and learn the biggest number that he can. Flying through varied ecosystems (desert, ocean, tundra) and meeting all kinds of animals (camel, alligator, frog, human), Pebbles takes young readers on a mathematical and scientific learning journey. Featuring informational asides and vibrant digital illustrations, Pebbles and the Biggest Number is an engaging read centered on numerical concepts and animal facts, a journey that’s sure to intrigue even reluctant learners.

The choice to make a bright-eyed, smiling butterfly the protagonist and narrator welcomes kids in with a friendly face on an insect they’re likely familiar with, immediately establishing comfort. That inviting feel helps when taking on something as complex as numerical concepts—the ones touched on here include infinity. Each layout tells the story with a striking encounter between Pebbles and other creatures, illustrated with warmth, joy, and amusing faces by Laura Watson. Each scene also offers multiple additional elements to take in, usually worked into the background environment, featuring either science or math facts. These are written concisely and clearly, offering real-world examples to aid readers in grasping the concepts (“Some ants can lift 50 times their body weight. That’s like you lifting a car!”).

Written in a conversational but still informative tone, the book succeeds at providing a multitude of opportunities to incorporate math concepts into daily life, as well as interesting animal facts. Backmatter includes a “dig deeper” section for both words and numbers found throughout the text. The numerical dig deeper section uses sand to illustrate the enormity of the numbers discussed. Fantastic as both an introduction or teaching tool for large number concepts, Pebbles and the Biggest Number is an excellent addition to any STEM bookshelf.

Takeaway: Potential scientists and mathematicians will love following Pebbles’s journey to find the biggest number.

Great for fans of: Emily Gravett’s The Rabbit Problem, Asia Citro’s Pigeon Math.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A