ONE GRAIN OF RICE

A MATHEMATICAL FOLKTALE

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. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-93998-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Amusing and nicely on-brand.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE SCIENCE FAIR SCARE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 6

Princess Magnolia’s attempt at a monster-free science fair goes as well as can be expected in the sixth book of the Princess in Black series.

With the Goat Avenger on monster watch, Princess Magnolia heads to the Interkingdom Science Fair. While initially excited about her project—a poster showing “how seeds grow into plants”—and seeing her fellow princess friends, Magnolia’s soon intimidated by how ambitious and fancy the other royals’ projects are. Why, Tommy Wigtower even has a talking volcano—when his baking-soda–and-vinegar volcano didn’t erupt properly, he added monster hair. The resulting goo monster wreaks havoc on the fair, leading to appearances by the Princess in Black and the Princess in Blankets to battle the beast. Evicted from the volcano, the monster tries to find a new home, prompting Princess Honeysuckle, Princess Orchid, and Princess Snapdragon (all sans aliases and costumes) to help deliver the monster to the monster hole for a new home. While it’s great to see the heroics from princesses in full regalia, the final page hints that they’ll soon join in the alter-ego fun. Perhaps the best gem is when the science-fair winner is announced and the graceful losers offer genuine congratulations while resolving to try harder next year. Aside from white Magnolia, the cast is multicultural and multiracial.

Amusing and nicely on-brand. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8827-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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