There are more stitches in front than in back because the neck scoops lower in front than it does in back so to make that half of the circle, you need more stitches. This is a unique situation because it's a seamless, in the round sweater. If you knit the pieces flat, the neck is approached differently. Don't be put off by the directions. If I were you, I'd go ahead and follow them and see how it comes together. If you are intimidated, start with the smallest child size. At worst, you use up a small amount of yarn realizing that you don't care for the pattern. At best, you have a sweater ready and waiting when your next friend has a kids.