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A Story About Multiplication

by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen & illustrated by Anna Currey

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8050-7664-6
Publisher: Henry Holt

This rather lackluster tale of a pig’s birthday party fails to emphasize multiplication as the subtitle would have readers believe. Four siblings hold a birthday party for their pet pig, each inviting two friends, one of whom brings his pet parrot, Pirate. While the presents are a disappointment, the games portion of the party looks promising to Corkscrew. As the kids determine how many groups to form for each different game, a multiplication problem summarizes how to manage the play. Badminton teams are pairs, so the children form six groups of two—but the pets keep getting in the way. After five failed games, the children finally stumble onto the solution, and choose a game for 14 rather than 12, including the pets in their play. Activity ideas and additional math problems extend the multiplication practice. Currey’s watercolors charmingly illustrate the mayhem the two animals cause, but fail to emphasize the mathematics: Never do the pictures show the children divided according to the multiplication problem. A disappointing follow-up to The Wishing Club (2007). (Picture book. 6-10)