AMANDA BEAN'S AMAZING DREAM

A MATHEMATICAL STORY

The protagonist in this story has a sort of low-grade obsessive/compulsive disorder: “I count anything and everything,” chirps Amanda. The problem is that Amanda’s class is moving on to multiplication and she just doesn’t get it. So she keeps counting things one by one until a dream of too many sheep, too many knitting needles, and too many sweaters pushes her over the edge. Amanda’s story is the forgettable vehicle for what is really at stake here: to disclose the mysteries of multiplication. While the illustrations make the concept graphically obvious, the text can be confusing: “I know about the multiplication sign, X. It means that things can come in groups, or rows, or columns,” but “What I do not know are the multiplication facts.” The term multiplication table is avoided, to no positive effect. At the end of the book, Marilyn Burns (The Greedy Triangle, 1995, etc.) does a credible, if prim, job of explaining the broad contexts of multiplication to adults working with children. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-590-30012-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS?

Not only does Jenkins (Life on Earth, 2002, etc.) again display a genius for creating paper-collage wildlife portraits with astonishingly realistic skin, fur, and feathers, but here on alternate spreads he zooms in for equally lifelike close-ups of ears, eyes, noses, mouths, feet, and tails. Five examples of each organ thrusting in from beyond the pages’ edges for each “What do you do” question precede spreads in which the point of view pulls back to show the whole animal, with a short accompanying caption. Visual surprises abound: a field cricket’s ears are actually on its legs; a horned lizard can (and does, here) squirt blood from its eyes as a defense mechanism; in an ingenious use of page design, a five-lined skink’s breakable tail enters and leaves the center gutter at different points. Capped by a systematic appendix furnishing more, and often arresting, details—“A humpback whale can be 50 feet long and weigh a ton per foot”—this array of wide eyes and open mouths will definitely have viewers responding with wide eyes and open mouths of their own. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 24, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-25628-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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THE GREEDY TRIANGLE

Here is a basic lesson in geometrical shapes disguised as entertainment. It aspires to nothing more, and just barely succeeds on its own modest level. The premise is that a busy triangle gets tired of its life and goes to a shapeshifter for an extra angle. Life as a quadrilateral is exciting for a while, but soon the protagonist requires another angle, and—the etceteras take readers through the final two-thirds of the story. Burns (The I Hate Mathematics! Book, Little, 1975, etc.) is wise enough to summarize everything past the hexagon stage. Notes on mathematics for adults working with children appear in the final pages. Newcomer Silveria takes the obvious approach to the illustrator's quandary—how to humanize an abstraction—by adding cute oval eyes and chubby cheeks. His creation comes off like a candidate for the Olympic mascot tryouts; he has a good color sense, and goes full throttle on every page. This installment of the ``Marilyn Burns Brainy Day'' series is static, simplistic, and too long by half—but finding fault with it as a work of art is like looking for character development in a Barney episode. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-590-48991-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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