Annemarie from Wordplay (2017) and her class work on set theory.
Annemarie’s homework assignment is for the students to draw a dozen items in sets: Three sets of four, four of three, and two of six are all valid. While Annemarie tries to decide what she wants to draw, she wonders what her classmates are working on, and the book cuts to various kids and their work. Initial examples (four sets of three, the most common set division selected by the students) are organized with the extra visual division of the four panels on each page, building to full-page images that encourage kids to count the items in the illustration to determine the sets. There’s also a delightful sequence that shows four seeds, then four saplings, then four trees, which pieced together read as a comic strip. The book doesn’t teach math so much as it encourages developing number sense through play. The art (digitally colored) has minimal shading and emphasizes basic shapes in both characters and their drawings, making it easy for child readers to imitate while playing along and drawing their own sets. Annemarie’s a brown-skinned girl with black hair and glasses in a class filled with racial diversity and led by a teacher who has dark brown skin, black hair, glasses, and a jaunty bow tie.
So exemplary an execution of a simple concept that it can be read multiple ways—as multiplication, counting, sorting—without sacrificing fun. (Early reader. 5-8)