ONE GRAIN OF RICE: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi

ONE GRAIN OF RICE: A Mathematical Folktale

Email this review


In artwork inspired by Indian miniatures (though lacking their exquisiteness), Demi (The Stonecutter, 1995, etc.) fashions a folktale with far-reaching effects. The raja of a rice-growing village orders his subjects to deliver to him the bulk of their harvest; he will keep it safe should a famine occur. A few years later the harvest fails, and so does the raja: ""Promise or no promise, a raja must not go hungry,"" he intones. When a young village girl, Rani, returns to the raja some rice that had fallen from baskets laden for his consumption, he offers her a reward. Her request is seemingly modest: a grain of rice on the first day, two grains the next, four grains on the third; each day double the rice of the day before, for 30 days. The raja, though, doesn't grasp the power of doubling. Day 21 garners 1,048,576 grains of rice; on the last day it takes fold-out flaps to show the herd of elephants necessary to convey the rice to Rani, who feeds the masses and extracts from the raja a promise to be more generous. This gratifying story of the disarming of greed provides an amazing look at the doubling process, and a calendar at the end shows how the reward simply grew and grew.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 059093998X
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Scholastic