Having tackled such hard-to-love topics as bees and spiders, Barton (Give Bees a Chance, 2017, etc.) here lobbies for the love of math.
An unnamed, unseen math-phobic narrator opens by announcing that they’re not alone, as “4 in 10 Americans hate math. That’s like 40%,” only to be hilariously interrupted by a three-eyed purple ET. “Did you just use math to explain how much you don’t like it?” The ET proceeds to explain how math is everywhere and in everything we already love, including cookies (demonstrating that a recipe is in effect a word problem), music (explaining the time signature and notes on a staff), and pizza (measuring the pie using pi). Loose and lively illustrations and big, bold lettering take readers on a colorful tour of cool math history and concepts. But the narrator’s critical questions go unanswered: How do you learn to love a problem like 785 x 5? And what to do with your frustration when you can’t arrive at the “one right answer?” The ET suggests shaking the numbers off the page when they get too overwhelming—an entertaining but ultimately evasive strategy.
Number lovers will enjoy this comic celebration. Although doubters may not be convinced that math is fun or approachable, they will be impressed with its ubiquity, and that’s a start. (Informational picture book. 5-9)