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Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree
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Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  204 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
It's easy to count three of something-- just add them up. But how do you count zero, a number that is best defined by what it's not?

Can you see it?
Can you hear it?
Can you feel it?

This important math concept is beautifully explored in a way that will inspire children to find zero everywhere--from the branches of a tree by day to the vast, starry sky by night.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Tricycle Press (first published August 11th 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Oct 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture
This is more poetry than math.
Zero is the sound of snowflakes landing on your mitten. 0 sounds.
Lisa Vegan
Oct 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fun way of teaching the concept of the number zero
This is a fabulous and fun way of teaching about the concept of zero, the number zero.

There are short descriptions on every page for “Zero is…” with various things that apply to children’s everyday lives and things in nature with which children are familiar. Children see zero = nothing, none, absent.

The paintings are wonderful, especially those that include the natural world and a cute one at a swimming pool with various children.

The tone ranges from awestruck to funny to just a bit melancholy t
Michelle Turnure
Very zen! Shino Arihara's illustrations have beautiful, calming colors and movement. The scenes on every page each tell its own story. I like the rhythm of Betsy Franco's words and storyline.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book (and, more importantly, my 2+-year-old son does, too!). It has lovely illustrations, running through a cycle of seasons using everyday situations in life and nature to explain the concept of zero. It's a quite complicated idea, this symbol for "none" or "null" or "nothing." This book illustrates it beautifully. The math geek in me loves the idea of a picture book about zero the same way the jazz geek in me loves Chris Raschka's "Charlie Parker Played Be Bop." Sophisticated idea ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-lit
Genre: Informational nonfiction
Reading Level: Early Primary (K-1)
This book was a great way to teach kids about the value of zero. One of the things I liked about reading this was that it made me think about how we do not talk about the value of zero. We dod not often thing about things that have a value of zero.
Jo Oehrlein
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: math, picture-books
Different ways to illustrate zero/see zero in daily life.
Gabrielle Goodstein
Where is the math: A charming book that explores the concept of zero by artfully describing scenes notable for what is not there. “Zero is…the ripples in the pool before the first swimmer jumps in. 0 ripples.” Ages 5 and up.
Genre: picture book
Theme/Keywords: Number sense, concept of zero
Features of print: The book features charming illustrations and examples that border on being poetic.
Language considerations: English text.
Cultural considerations: Multi-cultural characters depicted.
Open Ended
Rachel Boatright
Nov 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: tch-lrn-307, math
Zero is the Leaves on the Tree is a book with many, many examples of zero using illustrations to show children what zero looks like. At first they use an egg to describe how a zero looks like when it is written. On the following pages they use zero to show the amount of emptiness in something such as a trash can. Also, zero is used in the book to describe that something that you are looking for in which none of it is there. To demonstrate that zero has no sound they use snowflakes landing on mit ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it
How do you define zero? How do you draw a picture of nothing? The author and the illustrator make a valiant attempt in this picture book for ages 5-8. The problem lies in portraying negative space. Zero is the sleds on the hillside when the snow melts. How do you draw them if they are not there? Zero is the kites in the sky when there's no wind. How do you draw no kites? Sometimes the attempt is too strained and even confusing, as in, "Zero is the bikes in the bike rack on the last day of schoo ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children
The author uses metaphors from children’s lives to explain the concept of zero. I could see this book being used a lot with students to better understand zero or as a writing prompt.

A little from the book:

“Zero is…
the balls in the bin at recess time.”
Reactions from children:
Two unexpected problems with the book: We live in the southern part of the United States and many of the metaphors involved concepts our children never experience (the sound of snowfall, for example). The younger children lik
This book is interesting from a number of perspectives. First it addresses the number zero...colorfully illustrated throughout the year and the book. It does a nice job of introducing the seasons and the world around us. Finally, it is an interesting example of writing that focuses on one concept and could be used to teach writing to students who are older than the targeted picture book audience.
Gwen the Librarian
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While basically just a book about the concept of zero, Franco's evocative, poetic word/concept choices and Arihara's gorgeous paintings make this one of my favorite books of the year. The book follows the seasons, beginning with fall, with vignettes both in the classroom at out in the world. The title is one example of zero, referring to the leaves left on the tree in fall: zero. Another, "Zero is...the bikes in the bike rack on the last day of school."
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-library, math
33 months - I think O already understood the concept of zero or nothing but this was a good review and if she didn't have it mastered before she totally gets it now. Some examples are a bit of a stretch and I would argue not quite correct... The number of bikes on the last day of school? I'd bet there are kids that rode on the last day... probably should have been "After" the last day...
Ashley Barnard
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rdg-291, math
This is a very unique story. People do not usually focus on the number zero so it was neat to read a story all about zero. I thought it was creative that the story goes through all of the different seasons, and follows the children throughout the school year. The illustrations are amazing. The pictures appear to be water colors. I loved the different colors and textures.
April Poulter
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: march
So this whole book basically gives different examples of zero. Eggs are shaped like zero, zero leaves on the tree, zero balls in the bin, etc. It's a cute idea but I got bored with the book; it is too long and too redundant. Zero is not a difficult concept to grasp so it seems interesting to have an entire picture book dedicated to it.
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Spare poetic text by Betsy Franco and evocative drawingsby illustrate the concept of zero. I fear that students who need to have zero might have difficulty with some of the concepts. For example: "Zero is . . . the kites in the sky once the wind stops blowing." Lexile measure is AD700.
Lara Porter
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21-mathematics
I really enjoyed reading this book. I like how it was a counting book about zero, but there was also some sort of storyline there. I think that this would help to keep children's interest in the story.
Sandy Brehl
Direct effort to make the value of zero real, understandable. Very simple text, uses numerals and number words, as well as info about science/seasons.
Examples are very familiar ones, encouraging more attention to surroundings and other number values in our environment; patterns.
Ruth Ann
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully illustrated book about "zero", so I put it in both my math and my concept book category. It will be especially enjoyed by young children who are just developing their number sense.
It’s a fun book showing all kinds of daily things that mean zero, like “the balls in the bin at recess time. 0 balls.” And, “the kites in the sky once the wind stops blowing. 0 kites.” The story is repetitive and will be a good read aloud for young children.
Crysta Xue
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
A book on what zero can look like in real life
Oct 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Not a standout among NFPBs this year, but a nicely illustrated, simple concept book.
Saunders Awards
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: age-3
This is a beautiful and poetic introduction to the number 0 for 3-year olds.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: seasons
This book is provides the reader with a variety of scenarios for when 0 items are present. The illustrations are good.

Could be used to teach predicting.
Nanci Booher
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books, kids
So I had hoped that it would be more about leaves and not the number....but I think that the kids at storytime had fun with it as there were some counting elements to it.
Jessica Wirth
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this. Probably not something that I would've normally sought out, but when my 4 year old and I were talking about zero the librarian recommended this. Good book.
Kayla Skeans
Mar 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: march
This was a great way to present counting. Also unique ways of having zero presented.
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abc-123
A great book to reinforce that 0 (zero) is a number. Great for preK math. Kids counting zero counts too. Well written with great illustrations.
Jul 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Not many children's books that deal with the concept of zero. This one was more poetic than mathy, but maybe that's just what children need to see/understand the concept.
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Paintings and flowing text illustrate the numerical concept of zero
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Betsy Franco has published more than eighty books, including three previous anthologies. She lives in Palo Alto, California.
More about Betsy Franco...