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Count

Written by Melvin Burgess

Illustrated by Chris Mould

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Count Review

Books of the Month Family / Home Stories Fantasy / Magical Featured Books for 7+ readers Humorous School Stories Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

A fun adventure story about rise and fall of celebrity

October 2021 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2021

When Boastful Brandon brags that he can count to 10 Million no-one believes him. It sounds absolutely impossible. But once Brandon has started, nothing is going to stop him! He counts all through school – and gets into trouble for doing so. Even when he is sent to the furious head teacher who has never seen such disobedience, he doesn’t stop counting. He counts at home, through meals and all through the night. Soon, his extraordinary feat becomes a money making sensation…Award-winning author Melvin Burgess creates a vivid adventure out of an absurd situation and pokes gentle fun at all kinds of rules as he does so.

Julia Eccleshare M.B.E

Other Info

A letter from the author, Melvin Burgess;

When I was a small child, I had an ambition to count up to 100. It was a sort of boast really - I made my dad listen to me do it as he lay on bed with me at night before I went to sleep, after my bedtime story. He was very patient, I think, but it must have driven him crazy because if I made a mistake, I had to go back to the start and begin again. Poor man! And then my son did the same thing with me...

‘Listen to me count, Dad.’

Despite the nostalgia, by the third restart, all I wanted to do was get out of there.

I always felt there was a story in there somewhere, but I wasn’t sure what it was until I read somewhere about how long it took to count up to really high numbers. So much longer than you think - months, years maybe decades, in the case of billions. That set me wondering.

There was always something magic about the numbers. I never really got it myself - I was always dreadful at maths - but I knew there was magic in them somehow. Even as a small child, the way they just grew and piled up on top of one another - up as high as you like, with no end to them, ever.

So the idea of a boy who counted up to ten million was born. What a startling achievement that would be! Surely he’d be an internet sensation? But what would school think? How would the world deal with a boy who could do such a magnificent, but at the same time apparently dull, thing?

This is my first book for younger readers. It made a change, and a change is always welcome. Simplifying language was an easy thing for me - I always try to write whatever I want to say in as simple a way as possible. I figured there were two rules - number one, make it as good a story for young children as I could. Number two, make the best story to read to a child as an adult as I could.

It was fun, but it was hard work. First we tried to make it a picture book story - that didn’t work, probably because my editor felt children that young wouldn’t be interested in counting. Then it was for a rather older audience - that didn’t work either. The big difficulty in it as a story teller was that the main character, Brandon, doesn’t do anything throughout the book except count. It’s a strong idea, but how do you make a character who only does one thing interesting? The secret is to make the world revolving around him the story, so that our perception of him changes and develops as he counts higher and higher - and then lower and lower.

As for the illustrations, I wanted it to be funny and engaging and charming, but not too cute and sweet - so many people want to do super-cute and not much else. Andersen suggested various people, but when I saw Chris Mould’s work, I knew he was the one. His drawing has that cute edge but it’s so characterful. He lives and works near me so I went to see him in his studio in Halifax. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the book has turned out - print, illustrations, page design, cover, the lot. I’ve not felt so pleased and proud of a book for a long time!

Count Synopsis

Brandon is a boaster - he says he is brilliant at lots of things. Then he is challenged to count up to ten million. So Brandon starts: one, two, three . . . and before long he is up to one thousand. Everyone around him is bewildered and annoyed: his friend Waris, his teachers and Miss Hexx, the head.

But Brandon can't stop counting. And the higher he counts, the more everyone takes an interest, when Brandon reaches 30,000 he goes viral, by the time he gets to one million, he has a manager and a stadium full of fans counting with him.

And then strange, impossible things start happening. The numbers are taking over everything . . .

Count Press Reviews

‘A Dickens of the future’ - Michael Rosen

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781783449880
Publication date: 07/10/2021
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781783449880
Publication date: 7th October 2021
Author: Melvin Burgess
Illustrator: Chris Mould
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 176 pages
Suitable for: 7+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Fantasy / Magical, Humorous, School Stories, Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Books of the Month, Julia Eccleshare's Picks

About Melvin Burgess

Melvin Burgess was brought up in Sussex and Berkshire.  As a child, his reading included The Wind in the Willows and Gerald Durrell's animal stories. He went on to enjoy The Hobbit and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books. A generally unconfident student, he became interested in writing when he was twelve and an English teacher praised one of his stories  - "it was about the first time I'd ever done anything that got an A. I was so pleased I never stopped."  After leaving school, Melvin moved to Bristol  where he worked on occasional jobs, mainly in ...

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