An elderly carpenter makes birdhouses that attract the songsters he loves and offer a lesson in the concept of multiplication.
This Korean import nicely demonstrates the fact that multiplication is actually the repetition of sums. From two birds in each of two birdhouses (2x2=4; 2+2=4) to a condominium complex of bird pairs in each of the holes in four duplexes (2x8=16; 2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2=16), readers and listeners are gently led through repeated iterations. A note on the verso reminds adults that it is not “ecologically possible” for so many bird species to live together, and the illustrator's colorful, scratchy paintings show realistic but indeterminate birds. But the point here is not the birds, it’s the old carpenter’s love for them, his careful craftsmanship, and the math concept they reveal. Two species of birds each lay three eggs; three species each lay four eggs. The wonder continues. No translator is identified for the simple text of this narrative, and the translation is sometimes awkward. The birds “often stayed put for a long while. Other times, they flew south for the winter but returned to the woods in the spring.” But Kim’s illustrations are beautifully expressive, with close-ups of the birds and the carpenter and wide-angle scenes at different seasons and times of day.
A useful presentation of an important mathematical idea. (Informational picture book. 4-8)