Kristin Roskifte’s Everybody Counts

h1 May 8th, 2020 by jules


Kristin Roskifte’s Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion (Wide Eyed Editions, February 2020), a Norwegian import originally published in 2018, is an unusual counting book. Starting with zero (“no one”), pictured below, readers count up to 7.5 billion — with, needless to say, a few numbers skipped along the way. Readers do count 0 to 30 but then jump from there to 45, and from there things increment more arbitrarily. (And if you’re curious about the big number in the title, readers go from 1,000 to the titular 7,500,000,000, the latter number accompanied by an image of the Earth in space: “Seven and a half billion people on the same planet.”)

This book’s primary delight, though, lies not in the counting of humans, but in the stories hinted at and mysteries that lie within — and Roskifte’s reminder that all those stories count.

On the “1” page, we start with one person: “He is lying in bed counting his heartbeats. He wonders how many people are looking up at the same stars right now.” Next, we see him with an adult, and one of them says “something the other will remember for the rest of his life.” These deliciously cryptic hints compel the page turns. On the “4” page, we read that one of the people we see playing in a band will be injured soon. And, yes, if you take your time and pore over these illustrations (step aside, Waldo), you will, on a later spread, spot which person is injured.

The searching is big fun, and many of these succinct mini stories on each page are conversation-starters for sure. Some of my favorites include that only 13 of the 15 people at a funeral are grieving; two people on the “22” page have “done something illegal”; no one sees a crime being committed at the park on the “30” page; and 75 people run a marathon and two are sisters but don’t know about one another (and one of them “likes going to strangers’ weddings and funerals,” so hmmm … let’s flip back to that funeral). The “1,000” page is a doozy and the most lovely: “A thousand people watch a large comet that won’t pass close to Earth for another 2,533 years. Many of them wonder whether there is life on other planets. None of them knows for sure what the meaning of life is.” (Read closely, and you’ll see that someone on the “2” page has an idea, though.)

The connections that Roskifte draws in these pages are impressive and makes this one perfect for lying around to repeatedly browse and explore. But it’s much more than that. One of the final spreads features small grids with questions about the people included in the book (“Does he survive?” “Whos is he waiting for?” “Have you seen this key?”). But some grids in a solid blue color have merely text with some pretty fabulous thought-provoking head-scratchers: What is outside of the universe? What counts most in your life? How much do we really know about each other? Does everyone share the same truth? Those are just some of those questions.

I mean, right? I. love. it. These are questions that most adults avoid. Lob them children’s way and get prepared for some exciting discussions.

And good news: the final endpapers feature “Secrets and Answers,” notes that correspond to each spread. If you get stuck trying to find someone, Roskifte’s got you covered in the back.

A bit of art below. Enjoy!


“No one.”
(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


“One person. He is lying in bed counting his heartbeats. He wonders
how many people are looking at the same stars right now.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


“Two people in the forest. One of them says something
the other will remember for the rest of his life.”

(Click image to see spread in its entirety)


“A hundred and thirty-five people at an airport. Nineteen of them are homesick. One of them is about to miss the flight. One of them is meeting their family for the first time. One of them doesn’t want to be leaving, and won’t be coming back.”
(Click image to enlarge spread)


(Click cover to enlarge)


* * * * * * *

EVERYBODY COUNTS: A COUNTING STORY FROM 0 TO 7.5 BILLION. Text and illustration copyright © 2020 Kristin Roskifte. First published in 2018 in Norwegian by Magikon forlag, Norway. First published in 2020 in English by Wide Eyed Editions, an imprint of The Quarto Group, Minneapolis, MN. Illustrastions reproduced by permission of Wide Eyed Editions.

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