Uno’s Garden

written and illustrated by Graeme Base

Art + Arithmetic + Environmental Awareness! A story with hidden images and mathematical problems that focuses on the importance of striking a balance between development and conservation of nature.

Uno builds his home in the forest where he is surrounded by 100 plants and a variety of imaginary animals, including the common Snortlepig. As more and more people arrive and build houses, stores, and businesses, the plants and animals begin to vanish. When all the vegetation and creatures have disappeared the people abandon the city, leaving just Uno, his little garden, and the Snortlepig. Three generations care for the garden after Uno is gone and keep track of the creatures they see. Slowly the environment recovers but the Snortlepig has disappeared.

Imaginative, intricate pictures occupy most of each double-page spread; running across the top of the pages are brief text and math equations, accompanied by visual icons to help children keep track of the increase and decrease of the various creatures and buildings. Providing plenty of opportunity for seek-and-find fun, the vibrant art also visually reinforces the progressive change, and a double gatefold spread at the close dramatically shows the city and forest in balance.

Readers will enjoy searching the pictures, counting the plants and animals, and finding the elusive Snortlepig. This is an effective starting point for discussions about conservation, with some math lessons along the way. An appended note explains the numbers games.