Books, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ZERO THE HERO


AUTHOR: Joan Holub

ILLUSTRATOR: Ton Lichtenheld

PUBLICATION INFO: Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books, February 2012

ISBN: 978-0805093841

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: 6 and up, but my four-year-old things this is hilarious

GENRE: picture book (fiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS: “Unlike most numbers, Zero believed himself to be a hero. He just needed a chance to prove it.”

From the publisher: “Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. That’s what all the other numbers think of Zero. He doesn’t add anything in addition. He’s of no use in division. And don’t even ask what he does in multiplication. (Hint: Poof!) But Zero knows he’s worth a lot, and when the other numbers get into trouble, he swoops in to prove that his talents are innumerable.”

THEMES/TOPICS: math, counting

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Rarely do my boys find a book to be laugh-out-loud funny. This book has a lot going for it — a caped superhero, a fight with the Roman (numerals), comic-book comedy and lots of puns. We can’t read this at naptime or bedtime without having a 10-minute conversation about math. In fact, Finley (age 4) walked out of his bedroom after I put him to bed last night to let me know that 1+0 = 1. I am buying this book.

If you need more convincing, check out the book trailer.


  • The publisher has a teacher’s guide on its Web site.
  • BainPop has this helpful lesson on addition and subtraction, which includes zero’s special properties.
  • The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics uses macaroni to explore math concepts including our hero, Zero.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

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20 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: ZERO THE HERO”

  1. Kirsten, I love this book. I read everything Tom Lictenheld illustrates. And, the story is terrific for kids. Your boys certainly were creative. Love the book trailer too! Think it should be in every kid’s library. Great review!

    1. Few books receive such a rousing endorsement, but this one is a keeper. As I read it, I did wonder whether Joan Holub wrote the dialog among the numbers that appeared in the illustrations or whether that was a Lichtenheld invention. That part really made the book.

  2. This book sounds SO FUN! And kids will learn about math without realizing – pretty sneaky 🙂 I love the whole concept of a caped number and a fight with the Roman numerals 🙂 Thanks for adding this entertaining and secretly educational book to our list 🙂

  3. Sounds like a must have book for a kindergarten classroom. Zero the hero visits us every 10th school day, but only at night when the classroom is empty. Forgetful fellow – he always leaves his cape behind as well as a math guessing game and a zero treat (chewy life savers).

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