From paw print endpaper to paw print endpaper Ten Little Dogs is a delight. Countdown books are not new of course but they are a continuing source of enjoyment for small children, almost regardless of the quality. The adults who share them, however, need a bit more and they have it here.

What strikes me most forcibly about Ruth Brown’s illustrations is the movement in them. I swear that I can see some of the dogs jumping up and down out of the corner of my eye! And I do like the way that they each have their own characters. I’m not a dog-lover in the slightest but I find these pups engaging and eye-catching. And they are naturally all different to look at so that the reader can spot easily who’s missing.

But it’s not just the animals that draw the eye. The backgrounds are also beautifully realised be they fields, parks, gardens or (best of all for me) the beach. The dogs’ settings are beautifully painted with enough detail that each scene comes to life and gives the animals a faint storyline. This is not just a counting book; it is also a picture book. There is enough detail in the backdrops to give them substance but the dogs still remain the stars of the show.

As is the general case with counting books, the text is minimal but what there is scans and rhymes and describes the dogs’ activities, matching the backdrops well. I like the layout of the book too. The reader must turn the page to see how many dogs are left each time which gives children the time to remember the next number in the countdown sequence. Ten Little Dogs is a lovely book for small children, engagingly drawn and written by Ruth Brown and presented well by Scallywag Press.

TEN LITTLE DOGS by Ruth Brown is out now in hardback (£12.99, Scallywag Press). Find out more at scallywagpress.com and follow on twitter and instagram @scallywagpress

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