A VERY IMPROBABLE STORY

The latest of the Charlesbridge Math Adventures tackles the idea of probability. Ethan awakens one morning to find an unfamiliar cat named Odds on his head. Odds refuses to get off until Ethan wins a probability game. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. Ethan fails to choose a dime from his bank, or to find two matching socks from his drawer of ten pairs. It is when his sister brings out the marbles that the true teaching moment begins. Ethan lays out color pairs to determine what the odds are of pulling out two white marbles from a bag of 100 of four equal colors. It isn’t until breakfast that Ethan finally wins. By then, he has taken the lesson to heart and realizes that probability could help him win his upcoming soccer game. Gustavson’s oil paintings highlight the improbability of Ethan’s situation—his attempts to remove Odds, and failing that, to conceal him, will have readers in stitches. Each of Ethan and Odds facial expressions speaks volumes. Aside from its rather sluggish start, this is solid math that also teaches children about its applicability in the wider world. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-57091-871-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2008

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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MERCY WATSON THINKS LIKE A PIG

Mercy Watson, beloved porcine wonder, meets Francine Poulet, “the best animal control officer in the history of the world.” When Mercy discovers freshly planted pansies next door, what can she do but eat them? Never mind that the pansies belong to the next-door neighbors, pig-loving Baby and her pig-hating sister, Eugenia. When the furious Eugenia sees the incriminating pansy petals on Mercy’s chin, her anger gets the best of her and she reports Mercy to Animal Control. The officer, beak-nosed Poulet, is energized by the challenge of adding a new animal to her life capture list. DiCamillo’s comic timing coupled with Van Dusen’s familiar, over-the-top gouache depictions of the emotional Mercy and her caring, buttered-toast-bearing “parents” make this a welcome addition to the popular series. Fifteen very short action-packed chapters make this a fine step up for readers ready for a slightly more challenging read than Henry and Mudge. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3265-6

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2008

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