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Math Strategies That Multiply

by Greg Tang, illustrated by Harry Briggs

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-21044-5
Publisher: Scholastic

Tang would like to take the memorization out of the multiplication tables and insert some understanding. Play with the numbers, he suggests, get to know them and their relationships; use a little common sense. Here, critters of all stripes break the tables down into more digestible bits. Set in splashy, saturated color, zippy little quatrains introduce each table and explain his approach: “Two is very fast and fun, / quickly double and you’re done. / What’s that you say, be more precise? / Okay then, just add it twice.” When the tack taken is straightforward and simple enough, it reveals the workings of multiplication, as when the fours tables are understood as doubled twice, or the fives tables as half of the tens. Sometimes, though, things can get a little unwieldy: “Seven doesn’t take much time, / even though it is a prime. / Here is all you have to do, / first times 5 then add times 2.” That’s a lot to keep in your head, and memorization may seem less trouble. But Tang’s hope is that through these math autopsies, readers will grasp the mechanics at work and bury their math anxieties. (author’s note) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)