PIGS AT ODDS

In this seventh picture-book title about math, Mr. and Mrs. Pig take the piglets to the county fair for a muddled introduction to probability. The author, a former elementary-school teacher, explains that she decided that “having the pigs take chances on games would be a fun way to learn about probability.” Maybe, but in order to learn about probability, the author would need to spend more time explaining how probability works. She confines her explanations to one page at the end of the book, where she states: “Probability is the chance that something will happen. The probability of you getting a letter in the mail can be anywhere from 0 percent to 100 percent, depending on how many friends you have who write to you!” Actually the probability of getting a letter on any given day is more complicated and hardly random. She states a game is “fair . . . if every player has equal odds, or chances, of winning.” Then she has Mr. Pig try to bounce the basketball into a hoop. He gets a basket on the first try, but misses the next eight shots. Mrs. Pig advises, “Dear, I don’t think the odds are in your favor.” Here it is not a question of odds, but skill. While young children may enjoy the boldly colored illustrations of nattily dressed pigs zipping between rides and games at the fair, they won’t learn much about probability, despite the author’s motto, “Math + Reading = Fun.” (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-81566-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

THE KEEPER OF WILD WORDS

Sweet—and savory.

When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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