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Eric Carle's 123

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Eric Carle's animals are perfect for illustrating number concepts. One: giraffe. Two: giraffe and elephant. Three: giraffe, elephant, and bear. In this book, readers count all the way up to ten as each page has a corresponding number of animals to point out. The last page features a flip book of all the numbers to count out loud. The padded cover is perfect for little hands.

24 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1968

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About the author

Eric Carle

549 books1,927 followers
Eric Carle was a children's book author and illustrator, most famous for his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has been translated into over 30 languages. Since The Very Hungry Caterpillar was published in 1969, Eric Carle illustrated more than seventy books, many best sellers, most of which he also wrote, and more than 71 million copies of his books have sold around the world.

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5 stars
702 (34%)
4 stars
631 (31%)
3 stars
550 (27%)
2 stars
123 (6%)
1 star
22 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 202 reviews
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,124 reviews171 followers
January 20, 2023
Eric Carle's art can be striking, but here it seems as pedestrian as the minimalist story wherein he draws barely there train cars filled with increasing numbers of zoo animals. There's a mouse hiding on each page, but it doesn't do much but give kids a mouse to search for on each page -- there's no clever integration to speak of or a payoff of any sort.
Profile Image for Deb.
543 reviews8 followers
January 13, 2012
Carle builds a train page by page, number by number, with different animals on each car. The number of the page is represented at top left corner. At bottom margin (underneath track) is recap of what has already been built. A mouse visits each car. Final spread show all the animals at the zoo, and an empty train at the bottom. I am bemused by the number of reviews here complaining about the lack of text, as if no words makes it incomplete or not challenging for readers. It's called visual literacy, people. You, the reader, add to the process with your observations. Besides, as a concept book for numbers, I think this book conveys the meaning more clearly because there is not other text to decode. I think the hardest part may to separate out the animals to confirm count (I'm looking at you snakes), but Carle even addresses this by making the animals slightly different colors and giving them little faces.
23 reviews
February 25, 2020
• Genre: Picture Book – Counting
• Awards: none
• Audience: All ages
• Summary: This counting book uses a train car with ten different types of animals on their way to the zoo to familiarize young readers with numbers 1-10.
• A. How do you know this book fits in this specific category?
o This book uses drawings and text to familiarize young readers with the numbers
• B. Describe one of the visual elements of the book and how the illustrator used the element to contribute to the story.
o Carles uses color to engage the young reader and keep them entertained by the book.
• C. How would you use this book with a child or group of children?
o I would use this book with a group of young children, to teach the numbers. I would likely pair it with a story time and then worksheet.
Profile Image for Jacob.
701 reviews30 followers
December 24, 2021
My daughter will NOT allow me to rate this book any less as it is currently her favorite book ever
28 reviews1 follower
September 17, 2014
This book is just adorable! I loved how it had no words in it and was strictly just pictures with a number in the top left hand corner. It was almost as if this book encouraged a non-reading student to go at their own pace through the book. Encouraging them too look at the illustration, then at the number, and making a connection between the actual number and the actual illustration. I really enjoyed the illustrations and how they almost looked water-color painted on the spread. I also thoroughly loved how the train was moving "to the right of the page." All animals and illustrations were pointed or facing the right in their train cart. Another thing I really enjoyed about this book is how at the bottom of the page, there was an illustration of a smaller train which grows longer and longer as more animals in a train cart is added to the story. That bottom part truly tells the story of what animal comes next and what not. The illustrations were catchy and eye-grabbing, which is what an non-reader (kindergartner) is going to love about a book. When a child can't read yet, the illustrations are important and I thought this book one hundred percent grasped that. Overall, a great find for a kindergarten class!
February 5, 2014
I thought this was a vibrantly colored counting book that is great for children. The book has no words, so it is perfect for children who can't quite read on their own yet. However, it is also great for a little bit older audience that is just learning numbers and how to count. Younger (pre-reading) children can enjoy the pictures of the animals riding the train to their new homes at the zoo and the slightly older children can count the animals as a new one gets added each time and follow the train at the bottom as a car gets added each time. There is also a number at the top of the page that tells how many animals are there that they are going to count. I thought the illustrations in this were great because they aren't lifelike, but they are still very neatly drawn and the colors will definitely hold young kids attention. This is a book that they can pick up for independent reading to look at the bright pictures or read with parents to learn to count. It is perfect for just learning to count by only adding 1 each time and at the end all the animals are shown at the zoo in a vibrant picture.
49 reviews
December 9, 2014
This is a great counting book for children. I would recommend this book for preschoolers. They can physically count the animals on the page to see how many there are. This is an age where things have to be fun, engaging, and intriguing and Eric Carle does a great job at maintaining all of those things in this children's book. In the pages, each car on the train has one more zoo animal than the page before did. The first is a car with one elephant and the last one is a car with ten birds. Some of the animals are elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, seals, bears, alligators, lions, monkeys, and snakes. These are all fun animals that a preschooler would be familiar with. Maybe it would be a good activity to have the kids make animal faces with the help from the teacher and they could parade the halls or make their way through the classroom acting out the book for their parents at the end of the day. They can walk out and say what animal they are, the sound they make, and count off how many of them there are. This could be a great way to showcase the new learning!

Carle, E. (1996). 1, 2, 3 to the zoo : A counting book (1st ed.). New York: Philomel Books.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,397 reviews
May 5, 2016
We began today's story time with this book (only the first three pages). After singing the usual greeting song (The More We Get Together) and segue-to-theme song (Hello Everybody, Let's...)finishing with the phrase "count to three".

The first page features a train engine and coal car. "Who likes trains?" I asked to an enthusiastic crowd. I turned to the first page where an elephant is pictured on a flat-bed car. "I thought today we would tell the story about Goldilocks and the Elephant," I began. I turned the page and said, "Okay, how about Goldilocks and the Two (pause til someone says) Hippos!" I turn the page and say, "No? Well, how about Goldilocks and the Three Giraffes?" at which point we abandon this book and move on.
Profile Image for Megan.
22 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2017
• Book title and author/illustrator
o 1, 2, 3 To The Zoo
o Written and Illustrated by Eric Carle
• Personal Response to Reviews:
1) Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature)
Hurry up and get aboard the train. A collection of animals ranging from one very large elephant to five pairs of birds is headed for the zoo. As each number and the corresponding number of animals is introduced, another car is added to the train running along the bottom of the page. Once at their destination, the cars are emptied and the animals take up residence at the zoo. Transformed into a board book, Carle's delightful collages are still appealing and kids will have fun naming the animals, counting them, and spotting that little mouse that appears in every scene.
2) Evelyn Mauldin
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo provides simple text and attention-grabbing illustration to embed counting into story time. Each page has one number arranged in the corner, accompanied with the corresponding set of animals. A characteristic that I especially liked about this book was that at the bottom of each page, there was an ongoing list of animals that appeared in the previous pages. This is useful because it provides visual prompts for recall strategies. An instructor can help the child remember how many of which animals were on previous pages in addition to counting the animals on the current page. This book could easily be added to unit of study involving animals or counting. Children with disabilities can also be successful in participation in this book, because of the visual cues evident in the number of animals included on each page. The instructor could count with the child, and prompt him or her to point to the animals as they say each number.
• Brief Book Summary:
o The story begins by showing a train that is carrying animals to the zoo. Every page after this shows an image of an animal with a letter. For example, for the first page there is an elephant and the number one because there is one elephant. The book continues to do this by showing different animals (2 hippos, 3 giraffes, 4 lions, etc.). At the end, a big page opens and shows all the animals together at the zoo
• Personal Response to Reviews:
o Both reviews mention the visuals of the book and how it can attract learner’s attention. The Evelyn Mauldin review mentioned, “at the bottom of each page, there was an ongoing list of animals that appeared in the previous pages.” I especially think this is helpful for learners because it allows them to use visual prompts as recall strategies. I also agree that the visuals are a huge positive to the book. The visuals are bright and abstract and allow children to be engaged with the story by counting the animals on the page. Eric Carle uses the literary element of visuals to gain his reader’s attention. He also includes a hiding character on each page, which allows children to search and thoroughly process the images. The images allow the children to learn to count to ten. Obviously, this book can be used to teach children how to count. On the other hand, it can also teach children how to add and subtract. You could print out a worksheet with the animals on them and have the children add/subtract the animals. For example, you could have the students add the hippos and giraffes or take the lions away from the alligators.
Profile Image for Britney Padilla.
34 reviews1 follower
March 3, 2018
Children grades 1-3.
This book is all about numbers and animals. It takes place on a train as all the animals travel towards the zoo. On each set of pages is a brightly colored number on the top left for the corresponding number of animals per freight car. The beginning pages show the train engine and the conductor starting the journey. The numbers go from one through ten as the illustrations show an elephant, hippos, giraffes, lions, bears, alligators, seals, monkeys, snakes, and birds. The ending scene shows all the animals in their dedicated places in the zoo along with adults and children enjoying the day viewing the animals. Strengths of this book are that the numbers are clearly placed with the corresponding number of animals. For example, the number 5 is clearly placed on the set of pages where five brown bears sit in their freight car. Another strength is the use of bright colors. Each animal is depicted brightly such as the brown bears, a gray elephant, green alligators, and blue seals. A weakness in this book is a small brown mouse that seems to make its way onto every page. This might throw off the number set of the animals in each freight and the corresponding number on the top left corner. I would recommend this title to introduce numbers and number sets to children. It would be important to point out the mouse on each page and let the child know that it is not to be counted as part of the number of animals for the given number. The illustrations are all placed on white backgrounds. The animals are all in the same art style as the authors’ The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Also, the very last page in this journey to the zoo is a fold out where all the animals and humans are shown together as mentioned before. This title should definitely be used in lesson plans to introduce numbers, colors, and animals to children.
29 reviews
February 19, 2020
Picture Book-Counting Book
Laura Ingalls Award 2003
Audience: PreK-K

- The book 1,2,3 TO THE ZOO fits perfectly into this category because it combines simple counting with unusual illustrations of animals which makes it fun and interactive for children. Early learners will find the whimsical pictures appealing as they learn the beginning rudiments of numbers and counting.

- The coloring in this book was done really well for the age group it is driven towards. It is creative and almost a wordless text aside from the numbers. The bright colors will be engaging for juvenile readers and keep them engaged. The brightness and pictures of the animals make the book overall more fun as they are going on an adventure to the zoo.

- This book could be used in a whole-group setting or individually for students who needed more independent practice. I would begin reading this book to the class as a whole and counting the numbers of animals as we go to each page. The goal would be to create a foundation of teaching the concept of basic counting.
28 reviews
September 25, 2019
123 to the Zoo is another phenomenal picture book illustrated by Eric Carle. The book is very simple and straight to the point as each page is a number counting up to 10 using zoo animals to represent the given number. Eric Carles illustrations are different, colorful, and whacky. None of the animals looked the exact same which I liked most. You can see this on the page with the giraffes and the lions. Not only is this book teaching numbers and counting it is also showing diversity. I especially liked how Carle incorporated the train image at the bottom of the pages and as the numbers grew the animals were added to the train which I thought was pretty cool. At first I didn't notice it but as it grew it popped out on me. Eric Carle is a great illustrator and I think his unique drawings with his shapes and colors add to each book.
Profile Image for Laura.
28 reviews
June 28, 2020
Target Audience: Toddlers and Preschoolers

1, 2, 3 To The Zoo is a simple book with just numbers and illustrations. The illustrations are full of color, a staple characteristic of Eric Carle books. I liked the train on the bottom of the page that shows the previous animals that boarded the train to go to the zoo. Children can practice counting the animals again and again as additional digits are added. My critique of this book is that as the numbers get larger, some of the illustrations can be hard to see the number of animals that are being counted. For example, the 9 is illustrated with nine snakes. The snakes are coiled and for a young child, hard to distinguish between each when trying to count up to nine.
My daughter, who is almost two years old, enjoyed the book. Simple and bright. I borrowed it from the library, but would be reluctant to purchase it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lynn  A. Davidson.
5,810 reviews24 followers
August 4, 2021
In this little, colourfully illustrated, board book, a train is carrying animals to a zoo. Each car holds a different animal, but the reader also gets to not only identify the animal but count them all, too. One elephant, 2 hippos, 3 giraffes ... and so on to ten birds. A full spread shows the zoo at the end of the book. Fun for the youngest readers (pre-readers) who doesn't have to worry about knowing the words - because there aren't any but "zoo." There are numbers 1 - 10, and on the inside covers - front and back are all the numbers in different colours.
100 reviews
May 25, 2021
This is a great book for children learning how to count. It shows the numbers and also has pictures of animals representing the numbers. It also shows these children different animals that they may see at the zoo. I really like how each page shows the animals on a train cart. Eric Carle is an amazing artist and uses many popping colors. I would recommend this book for toddlers and young children.
44 reviews
October 13, 2022
On the first page after of the book, it has numbers one through ten over and over in different colors which I found really cool. This book is illustrations only, so there are no words. Each page goes through the numbers in order with the different zoo animals. However, the amount of each animal is different. students can identify that animal and count the number of zoo animals in that train cart because the animals are on there a way to the zoo.
Profile Image for Goshen PL Childrens.
1,406 reviews26 followers
February 28, 2018
I love Eric Carle's illustrations and this was no exception. It is a simple counting book, but shows the full train with each added car at the bottom of the page, so you watch the train grown longer with each addition. The very last page spread shows all of the animals in the zoo and the train at the bottom has ten empty cars.
355 reviews2 followers
October 20, 2019
This book is a great book for counting and also addition. The illustrations that accompany the numbers are so colourful and attractive. The train at the bottom is the best bit and would be great for getting the children to draw in their own pictures and having to work out how many go on the top and how many on the bottom.
75 reviews
April 24, 2020
Contemporary Realistic Fiction
This book is an excellent early childhood reading option. It brings numbers and counting to life through its lively animations and fun storyline. All of the animals are sure to ignite any child's sense of wonder and curiosity into the world around them, and offers an excellent opportunity to practice introductory math skills.
699 reviews3 followers
July 11, 2020
Gorgeous watercolor pictures highlight this 1 to 10 counting book from legendary Eric Carle. A big circus train chugs by with ten types of animals for the zoo, and readers 2-6 get to count how many are in each cage, from hippos to gators, each number of animals in each cage to go along with a certain number 1 to 10. It's pure colorful joy!
Four stars
Count to ten, and Eric Carle does it again!
Profile Image for Khari.
2,329 reviews53 followers
December 25, 2021
As much as I despise Eric Carle, I have to give this a grudging two stars...because the cover is fun to hold. It's all poufy and feels like a present.

It's also got a tab for you to pull on and all of the numbers flow from one to the next. Fun fun fun.

Other than that, typical Eric Carle. Pointless.

Story: Dictionary
Art: Typical Eric Carle
Price: I forgot to look before I returned it.
80 reviews3 followers
March 12, 2017
The book is very colorful. It exemplifies numbers as pertaining to a train carrying animals to the zoo. This book can help children learn numbers. Children will like it because of the different animals.
Profile Image for Kayla.
155 reviews
October 4, 2017
This wouldn’t be a book I would keep in the classroom if I taught first graders or above. However, I could keep this in the classroom if I taught kindergarteners. I liked how towards the bottom of each page it added on to the train, this allows the reader to review what all they have read.
Profile Image for Erik.
1,845 reviews7 followers
October 15, 2017
A train takes animals to the zoo, with an increasing number on each car. It's set apart from other counting books by Carle's fun art and the lack of text, leaving it up to readers to create their own story.
14 reviews3 followers
November 6, 2018
Lovely illustrations and clever story (with the trailers filling up along the bottom of the pages) but sometimes we found it hard to count the animals as they were quite close together and overlapping - tricky for little brains!
135 reviews2 followers
March 12, 2019
A good book for teaching children to count. There is not any text, so this can be used with any languages you see fit - this could be a good opportunity to increase the languages used within the classroom (especially within an early years setting).
73 reviews
March 18, 2021
This is the first book Eric had written and illustrated solo! It is very fun and exciting. There is full double page illustrations but the animals are in cages on a cargo truck that make it easier for counting. I think this is a smart move on his part so young readers that are learning to count can easily see where each animal is on every page.
28 reviews
January 30, 2023
This is a good picture book to familiarize students with numbers 1-10! The book includes a train that has animals on it. Each page adds an animal as the book counts to 10. This would be a great book for the preschool level when learning to count!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 202 reviews

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