Marzollo’s second Help Me Learn title builds on the first (Help Me Learn Numbers 0-20, 2011) but unfortunately does not fix its rhythm and rhyme flaws.
Relating to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics for pre-K through first grade, this latest focuses on addition: counting on, skip counting, number sentences, ways to equal 10, tally marks and a few subtraction problems. But clunky verses with words chosen for rhyme rather than meaning (or even rhythm) plague these pages, and affect not just readers’ understanding, but readability as well. “What is the answer / when we add zero? / It’s what we had. / Is that clear-o?” However, the book’s largest problem is a disconnect between content and audience. The rhyming is appropriate for the younger end of the spectrum but may turn off the older kids, and the tally marks and 3- and 4-digit addition sentences are going to be beyond the younger kids, especially since the math is not really explained. Many of the tiny objects from the first book make a reappearance here in Phillips’ photos, but there are some interesting new additions, most notably colorful marbles and some bright and cheerful aliens.
This is not a book that kids could (or would) pick up on their own without guidance, and teachers are likely still to prefer to use old favorites that do it well. (Math picture book. 3-7)