Riding on the wave of her successful Teddy Bear Counting (2010), McGrath once again brings out the colorful teddy-bear counters to teach kids mathematical concepts.
Here, though, with its focus on so many different mathematical ideas, McGrath’s latest is too overpacked to achieve it all. Of the sections, graphing is the strongest, using both words and artwork to explain how to graph the bears and read the finished graph. From there, it is downhill. While she nicely illustrates the fact that 2x10 and 10x2 are equal, McGrath fails to explain what is going on in either multiplication or division. Students without the book’s 47 bears may find themselves confused. If not, they will almost certainly be by the end, when ordinal numbers are presented. “For the six [bears] that are left / slowly follow each word: / the fourth bear goes first, / the fifth second, the third third!” The breezy rhyming verses that worked well for a younger audience and the simple concept of counting are not suited to either the older audience of this text or to the more complex concepts, which require more explanation than is given. Nihoff’s hand-drawn digital illustrations nicely match the text, the bears assuming different poses only when it won’t distract from the learning.
Considering the many awesome math concept books that are on the market, this is one to skip. (Informational picture book. 6-8)