Books by Virginia Walton Pilegard

CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2003

The ingenious young hero of Warlord's Fish (2002) and two earlier exploits again triumphs while taking in a bit of math. When bandits carry off an itinerant troupe's chest of marionettes, Chuan creates new puppets from scraps of cloth and carved vegetables. As in previous meetings, Pilegard tucks in both cultural and mathematical snippets; Chuan's artist-master informs him that proper proportion of head to body in Chinese art is 1:6, and in a final add-on, the author invites readers to make, then measure, sock puppets of their own. The square-headed human figures in Debon's whimsical illustrations resemble the vegetable ones; readers will appreciate the humor, though the quickly told story definitely takes second place to the imbedded lesson. The exotic setting makes this an appealing alternative to Stuart Murphy's MathStart series. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

The clever fisherman's son who solved The Warlord's Puzzle (not reviewed) returns to get his father out of a pickle—inventing one of the most widely used accounting tools in the process. Tallying the warlord's treasures might seem a simple enough task—but what with all the distractions at the palace, young Chuan's father keeps coming up with different totals. Considering the warlord's iffy temper, it's a perilous situation, but Chuan saves the day with a device of carved beads strung onto sticks—a forerunner, as Pilegard explains at the end, of the abacus. As in Chuan's earlier triumph, Debon evocatively depicts court dress and decorative details, but tends to exaggerate the facial expressions of his puppet-like figures to the point of caricature. Nor will the author's scanty comments about place notation teach young readers how a true abacus is used. Still, capped with a diagram for a modern version of Chuan's counting frame made of cardboard, pipe cleaners, and o-shaped breakfast cereal, this makes a good, if sketchy, story reminiscent of Stuart Murphy's popular MathStart series. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >