Books by Virginia Walton Pilegard

THE WARLORD’S PUPPETEERS by Virginia Walton Pilegard
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 >
THE WARLORD’S FISH by Virginia Walton Pilegard
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

The young artist's apprentice of Warlord's Puzzle (2000) and Warlord's Beads (2001) brings a third ancient invention to the world. Kidnapped by traders and carried far into the desert, Chuan and his master reclaim their lives and freedom by leading their captors' beleaguered caravan back to the last oasis. How? With the help of a bowl of water and a small magnetized fish Chuan had found in his master's workshop. Debon gives this fanciful "origins" tale an equally fanciful Far East setting, placing blocky, doll-like people and camels into windblown desert scenes. The plot line is more perfunctory than in previous episodes, and aside from a line about heating "loadstone," the author is vague about how compasses were made. Still, what better way to introduce them to young readers than with an adventure story—plus instructions at the end for a simple modern instrument made with Styrofoam and a paperclip? (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
THE WARLORD’S BEADS by Virginia Walton Pilegard
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 >