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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Recommendation from Under the Radar: The Noisy Counting Book

You have heard, I’m sure, of movies that didn’t make so much as a red cent during their initial release. Films like "The Princess Bride", which acquired their lucrative cult classic status long after they’d made the rounds in the theaters. The same can be said of books, you know. Certain books will sometimes do so-so in stores only to gain a following long after their publisher has consigned them to the dusty bins of out-of-printness.

In 1987 Random House published a small everyday storytime title by the name of "The Noisy Counting Book". Quiet and unassuming, the book had your basic simple words and pictures. "Early one morning a boy went to a pond to fish." Sounds easy enough. While there, one big frog goes, "Ga-dunk". Then two ducks go "wak wak", and one big frog goes "Ga-dunk". You see where this is headed. By the end the boy’s batting away loud mosquitoes, frenzied fish, birds, crickets, and god knows what else. Understandably he calls for "QUIET!" and gets it. That is, until one big frog goes (all together now) "Ga-dunk!"

Summarized here this doesn’t seem particularly different from any other storytime book. Yet when presented with the correct amount of enthusiasm and verve, this book has the capacity to entrance that most difficult of audiences: Toddlers. It couldn’t be more captivating to them. I place part of the credit on JonBuller’s cartoonish illustrations. The rounded characters, all topped off with the entirely wacked out frog on his lily pad, take on a kind of hyper-kinetic electricity as the pages merge words and images over and over. I think kids also really respond to the combination of chaos and funny sounds. Sure, Schade could have had the frog say, "Ribbit". Ribbit is standard operating procedure for frogs in children’s books. But "Ga-Dunk"… well, shoot. If I were going to rename this book I’d call it "Ga-Dunk" without question. After all, that’s the thing the kids love the most. No matter how many tweets or chirps you’ve done, it’s the satisfying "Ga-Dunk" at the end that gets ’em every time. No one can resist it. It’s incredibly fun to say.

By the way, do the names Schade and Buller sound familiar? They should. The two recently wrote The Travels of Thelonious which came out just last year, to say nothing of this year’s sequel. Part comic book, part novel, the "Thelonious" books feel like Akira meets Bambi. All those adorable little animals that crop up in "The Noisy Counting Book" take on new life when they’re trapping one another in lies and fighting for their very survival in a post-apocalyptic world.

In the New York Public Library system there is a single remaining copy of this title available for perusal and it is a Reference edition at the Donnell Library.  I can only assume that this is because other copies in other libraries were so used and overused that they all had to be deleted from the system due to the sticky, destructive little hands of Ga-Dunk happy tots.  The one copy that remains is a staple of my Toddler/Preschool storytimes (though I discovered only yesterday that the last page was recently crayoned in, much to my chagrin).  Other books come and go but "The Noisy Counting" book is now and forever.  And in the event that it is ever republished I shall buy stock in it and retire a happy woman at the age of 35. 

A necessary purchase.


  • Visit the Jon Buller & Susan Schade website here.
  • Jon Buller is also notable in that he is one of the very few children’s illustrators I have seen to create his very own tarot cards.
About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. janeyolen says:

    David Palladini is on his second tarot deck! The first was done BEFORE he did any children’s books. The latest he’s working on now.


  2. Jon Buller says:

    Akira meets Bambi! Wow, can we use that as a blurb for the paperback?

  3. It’s all yours. Be good to it.

  4. a. fortis says:

    What a cute book–and I adore Jon Buller’s tarot. Thanks for that link!

  5. literacyteacher says:

    Thanks for submitting this for the Carnival.

  6. Preschooler Mom says:

    This book was such a hit in my child’s preschool. He carried it with him everyday at the age of 3 and it inspired a week of learning based on the book. Too bad it isn’t available in the book store.