Marzollo and Phillips’ third collaboration gives readers both the vocabulary and the vertical and horizontal number sentences that will introduce them to basic subtraction.
This outing begins with an addition problem, and the sassy little wooden figures in the corner kibitz, remarking that it is not subtraction. But there is a method to the madness—Marzollo is making the connection between addition and subtraction, pointing out that they are opposites (and also adding in a little welcome comic relief). As in the previous two books (Help Me Learn Addition, 2012, etc.), sometimes-forced rhyming verses set up a math problem, the answer left blank in the rhyme but provided in parentheses within the text. “6 shy dinosaurs don’t know / what to do. / So 4 try to hide! / That leaves ____ (2).” Each page provides a number sentence to go with the rhyme, mixing up the format, with some vertical, some horizontal, and some using words instead of numbers. One page is an especial challenge to readers, asking them to solve "11 - ? = 9" (and failing to provide the answer). But Phillips’ photographs give the youngest readers the visuals they need to solve the problems. Some new knickknacks make it into his scenes, but they are heavy on fuzzy yellow chicks and Brushkin animals.
The dash of humor in the text is a welcome addition. (Math picture book. 3-7)