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The Numberlys

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  816 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
From the team who brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore comes an alphabet tale extraordinaire!

Once upon a time there was no alphabet, only numbers

Life was fine. Orderly. Dull as gray paint. Very numberly. But our five jaunty heroes weren't willing to accept that this was all there could be. They knew there had to be more.

So they broke out hard hats
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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(showing 1-30)
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Alice, as in Wonderland
Look, I think this is a pretty book with great illustrations and the story it tells is pretty decent, but I can't help but be upset by the whole thing. This entire book is about how the fact that numbers are BORING and we need LETTERS AND WORDS to bring magic into our lives and I just think that's totally unnecessary. We already have those books, we read those books all the time. There need to be more books about the enjoyment and the excitement of numbers because mathematics is not promoted or ...more
Mar 24, 2014 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
In a world where there are only numbers, everything is very orderly and neat. But it’s also very gray, even the food. Then five friends started to wonder if there was something more than numbers, something different! So they started inventing and they slowly came up with letters. And when they reached the final letter Z, things started to change. Color entered their dreary lives as the letters fell into place. Once the letters formed words, real changes started and the entire world was flooded w ...more
May 25, 2014 Jocelin rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
I love William Joyce's retro style of art illustration. His pictures tell such great stories, he is one of the few authors that can convey a story that way. The book goes from black and white to color and it is fun. The book starts out with only numbers in the world and the world is gray, lifeless and dull. When The Numberlys decide that things should change, they set out to do something about it. So, they create Letters. Boom, the world comes colorfully to life.
This is a fun book showing the va
Florence Turnour
Oct 22, 2014 Florence Turnour rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-book
Numbers and mathematics are at the heart of what our children will need to succeed in the times to come, and math ideas are beautiful and plentiful and ever growing and evolving. The dull dreary world that the authors say is so awful that it is "numberly" does not reflect the beauty that is central to mathematics.

Unfortunately many Americans, parents of children and teachers, believe that math is dull and too hard to be worth the time. This book exacerbating a problem so great, teachers must co
I thought this was spectacularly boring. There's very little story to it, to be honest, and no character(s) to connect to or root for. The characters, such as they are, are merely there. The illustrations are cute but not enough so to really make a difference, enjoyment wise. And compared to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, it was a major letdown.
Oct 18, 2016 Ruth rated it it was amazing
I adored this book. The words and illustrations work together to show what happens when a group of people - who live in a world where there are only numbers and no alphabet - decide to make a change. It's a simple story, but beautifully captured the heart of why words are so wonderful, and what they can do to change the world around us.
Jul 21, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
Joyce is pretty much an automatic love for me. This one has a clear plastic dustjacket with the black and white numbers on it and a special surprise underneath. Gorgeous. The story concept is good, but really, this is just awesome art. I do not at all mind that he has a study full of newcomers learning from him. Not when the quality is this high.

Library copy
Dec 20, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it
The art is 5 stars, but the story is 1 star! As an English major, who loves art of all sorts, I see the (beautiful, many) shades of grey in a world without colors or language....but come on! A written language is wonderful, but the message here that numbers are not amazing and varied and INFINITELY beautiful is one gazillion percent erroneous.
Jul 22, 2016 Angelina rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
NOTE: Possible spoilers, but c'mon, it's a picture book.

Maybe I'm in a foul mood today or something, but I was soooo disappointed! This book looked adorable and the illustrations are really great, but the story fell flat. "They did something. They were tired, but happy. The end." WHAT?!?
Joann Ash
Dec 02, 2015 Joann Ash rated it really liked it
My student brought this book to me and said, "You have to read this!"
Fantastic! Loved the illustrations, loved the story. It almost felt a little dystopian with the sepia tones and generic masses of moon men marching around with their numbers. Unique, brilliant, fun.
Kay Smith
Dec 18, 2015 Kay Smith rated it it was amazing
Math might rule, but words tell feelings. Beautifully illustrated children's book!
Jun 11, 2014 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
A very uniquely laid out storybook with a fun story telling how the alphabet came about.
Michele Knott
Jun 09, 2014 Michele Knott rated it really liked it
Fantastic illustrations. The beginning got my attention "Once upon a time there was no alphabet. Only numbers." Which made me say nooooooo. Good for teaching kids to think differently.
Danica Midlil
May 30, 2014 Danica Midlil rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Oh! So that's how letters came about!
Meredith Estes
Jun 22, 2017 Meredith Estes rated it it was amazing
This book is so fun. It starts off black and white with numbers and becomes full of colors with the creation of letters. It's a great book for little ones learning colors and letters. We had a lot of fun and my four year olds still pull it out on their own.
Ms. Jeane
Mar 06, 2017 Ms. Jeane rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book! I'm trying to figure out how to work this one into a storytime theme for my preschool class that I read to once a week!
Faith Tydings
Dec 29, 2016 Faith Tydings rated it really liked it
I love the way this book was written - so unique!
Jim Erekson
Sep 29, 2015 Jim Erekson rated it really liked it
An homage to Apple's 1984 Macintosh commercial, it's also just a fun backdrop for an alphabet book. A few unusual departures from the norm make it interesting:
First, the numbers get a lot of air time! Yes, casting a world of numbers as 'Big Brother' is unfair, a too-easy easy target in this simple dystopia. But unfairly setting up villains is what story writers do. But in the process, kids see a lot of numbers in this pleasing b/w style. Too bad they are bad.
Second, the way the heroes pull apa
Sep 24, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
Oh my! The creativity that I found in this book is absolutely amazing! For a mind to think up this fun and unique story, to illustrate with such delightful intention, is just beyond my imagination. Yet it made every creative juice I have begin to flow! This book reads vertically, horizontally and vertically again. It is in browns, grays, sepia tones at first, then gradually adding colors to dominate the pages.

"Once upon a time there was no alphabet. Only numbers. Everyone liked numbers. They ha
Aug 08, 2016 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-books
Once again, another amazing story by William Joyce! My daughter is turning 2 next month, and is starting to recognize her letters. This is a great book for helping reinforce the alphabet and also has a neat story.

These little creatures live in a world where only numbers exist. Five of them feel like they need to do something to make life more exciting, so they started to work. They started adjusting all the numbers to create something new. They began creating the letters of the alphabet.

There we
Amanda Deatherage
I found this book in the Joseph Beth bookstore by the Fayette Mall. I was looking at a table of books in the children's section and this book caught my eye. I thought the cover looked very interesting-it is transparent in parts. The story is about a world where letters and words don't exist, only numbers do. So, instead of everything having a name it has a number. One day five friends who live in this "Numberly" world decide they need something different, so they create letters and change their ...more
Angela Rodriguez
Apr 04, 2016 Angela Rodriguez rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, fiction
This children's book is without a doubt inspired by Fritz Lang's silent movie "Metropolis." You can see the aesthetic vernacular of german expressionism in the illustrations, not to mention the futuristic cityscape that is iconic of Lang's film. Though Lang's 1927 opus is a tale of capitalist oppression, class conflict and romance-not what most people would consider great material for a children's book, I think Joyce does a decent job of appropriating the aesthetic style in order to tell the tal ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Malissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
First off let me say that when I got this book in the mail I went to total mush over the cover (you all know how I love a good cover), I adore the illustrations but love LOVE how the cover has depth and dimension to it. Using a transparent jacket over the hard cover gives it an almost 3D like feel to it. I have to admit that I love keeping the cover jacket slightly off center so I get the full affect. Also I should note that William Joyce is one of my all time favorite Children's Authors and I ...more
Cat Castillo
Feb 22, 2016 Cat Castillo rated it liked it
I picked up this book randomly, hoping to find a book for younger readers, and what captivated me was the odd formatting of the pages inside. The orientation of the cover is landscape to show the line of creatures marching along with grey suits and grey falling numbers. The back has the same grey falling numbers. A downside is that I checked this book out of a library so the dust jacket is permanently on, but underneath is so very creative! Under the dust jacket is brightly colored letters. Befo ...more
Becky B
The Numberlys live in a world where all communication is done with numbers. But one day, five friends start to wonder if there could be more than numbers. Eventually, they develop the alphabet, which brings color (and jellybeans) to their world.

The art deco/animation style illustrations in this are so very interesting; they definitely help establish a stark and strict mood for the Numberly world. It felt to me like a combination of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Equilibrium, two movie
First of all, the way you read this book confused me at first because I didn't know if the whole book was this way but as I read more I loved it. It's cute and very creative! It was frustrating the times I did have to turn the book, there were only a couple words but the movement of the book seemed too much and I thought it might confuse kids if you keep having to turn the book one way then back to another. The illustrations in between the story were cute, showing the “invention” of letters in t ...more
Numbers equal order, but don't allow room for originality. In the Numberly's world, everything is perfectly timed, symmetrical, and identified by a number. Dissatisfied with their grey surroundings and dull life, Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 decide to think outside the box. Inspiration strikes! From numbers, comes letters.

For the most part, pages have a vertical orientation, except in the few instances where the Numbers 1 through 5 get a close-up. Every Numberly looks exactly the same, however the
Tiffany Fox
Feb 25, 2015 Tiffany Fox rated it it was amazing
Once upon a time there was no alphabet, only numbers.
Life was fine. Orderly. Dull as gray paint. Very numberly. But our five jaunty heroes weren't willing to accept that this was all there could be. They knew that had to be more. So they broke out hard hats and welders, hammers and glue guns, and they started knocking some numbers together. Removing a piece here. Adding a piece there. At first, it was awful. But the five kept at it, and soon it was artful! One letter after another emerged, until
Aug 26, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, kids
Review: 4 out of 5 stars

What first caught our attention when we received this book was the beautifully detailed cover, Miss 7 loved removing the sheer overlay covering to check out the hard cover below; it was quite unique.

The next thing we noticed was we had to flip the book around so that it was lengthwise to read which was a little awkward when tiny miss 7 was holding the book, it became a bit awkward.

The book goes from black and white muted tones to full vibrant colour by the end of the book
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William Joyce does a lot of stuff—films, apps, Olympic curling—but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Numberlys, The Man in the Moon, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, Toothiana, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also an Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives with his family in Shre ...more
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