Cover image for One is a snail ten is a crab : a counting by feet book
One is a snail ten is a crab : a counting by feet book
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, c2003.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : color illustrations.
Reading Level:
200 L Lexile
A counting book featuring animals with different numbers of feet.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY SAY 1 1

On Order



What do one hundred sunbathing snails have in common with ten crabs in inner tubes? Check out this mirthful counting book with a focus on feet.

If one is a snail and two is a person, we must be counting by feet! Just follow the sign to the beach, where a bunch of fun-loving crabs, lounging dogs, gleeful insects, and bewildered-looking snails obligingly offer their feet for counting in a number of silly, surprising combinations - from one to one hundred!

Author Notes

April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre are a husband-and-wife team who lead ecotours and travel extensively to study, photograph, and videotape animals in the rain forests of Panama, Madagascar, and Ecuador. They also speak at schools, botanical gardens, zoos, and nature festivals. Together they wrote a natural history book for adults. Jeff Sayre is an ecologist specializing in native plants and birds. April Pulley Sayre is an award-winning author of more than forty books for children. The Sayres love to brainstorm and laugh together - which is how the idea for ONE IS A SNAIL came about.

Randy Cecil graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and is the illustrator of numerous books for children. He says of ONE IS A SNAIL, "It was great fun to figure out how these strange creatures would react in all these different combinations. Crabs seem to have the best time together!"

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-The Sayres offer readers a fresh look at counting with a simple concept: the number of feet different animals have. The book begins with a snail's one foot, and then moves on to 2 for humans, 4 for dogs, 6 for insects, 8 for spiders, and 10 for crabs. Each odd number is represented by the even-numbered animal plus one snail. After 10, the numbers go by 10s to 100, with the number shown in two ways, for example: "70 is seven crabs- or ten insects and a crab. 80 is eight crabs- or ten spiders." All the animals are pictured on the beach, where most of them are involved in typical actions for their species; the fun-loving, playful crabs, however, bicycle, dance underwater limbo, play volleyball, and try new diversions on almost every page. Very simple text in large type is appropriate for group use as well as beginning readers. Uncluttered, black-outlined, oil-on-paper pictures clearly illustrate the concepts, and Cecil's googly-eyed snails, sports-minded crabs, and other animals add a touch of humor. Whether used with children just beginning to count or grade schoolers starting to multiply, this original and clever book will have wide appeal.-Louise L. Sherman, formerly at Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

This husband-and-wife team (Hummingbirds: The Sun Catchers) puts a beach community's best feet forward and simultaneously explores the myriad ways that numbers can combine. Beginning with the critter with the fewest feet ("1 is a snail"), proceeding to the two-footed humans ("2 is a person"), simple addition results: "3 is a person and a snail." Thirty is rendered as three crabs ("Crabs have ten feet," the authors point out in an earlier aside. "Their front two feet also have a second job, as claws") or "ten people"-whose feet dangle below the surface of the water-"and a crab." The highest number here: 100 (10 crabs, "or, if you're really counting slowly... one hundred snails!"). Cecil covers every inch of the spreads with scratchy-textured, tropically-hued oils; this approach gives the colors a subtle dynamism and creates a counterpoint to the strong, simple shapes of his multi-footed characters and their black ink outlines. Clearly, his favorite characters are the crabs. Not only do they chime in with their convenient multiples of 10, but they also display an array of improbable talents, from bicycle riding to playing two-crab team volleyball. Ages 5-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

1 is a snail (because a snail has one foot), 2 is a person. / 3 is a person and a snail. / 4 is a dog and so on; eventually, 50 is five crabs . . . / or ten dogs and a crab. While this unusual approach--using feet to count to 100--may confuse at first, it will also lead some children to aha moments about grouping and higher mathematics. The humorous illustrations are instantly appealing. From HORN BOOK Fall 2003, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Seeing patterns and different ways of calculation are standard concepts of mathematical reasoning, but there is nothing standard about this creative counting book. The potentially pedestrian subjects of counting, adding, and multiplication step up to another footing as each page or spread counts the number of feet of various creatures on a beach, from a snail with just one foot (of sorts) to a crab with ten feet, including its claws. Helpful white arrows within the humorous oil paintings point to the feet as each animal is introduced, helping to convey the logic of this way of seeing. The patterned text follows the sequencing in the title, moving on after numeral 10 to more complex computations of feet that march right into the concepts of multiplication and even elementary algebraic equations for those who choose to dip a toe into those waters. The buggy-eyed insects, crabs, and snails provide an appealing cast of characters who stand up to be counted against a summertime palette of orange sand and blue skies. (Picture book. 4-10) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.