DIRT + WATER = MUD by Katherine Hannigan


Age Range: 4 - 8
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A little girl and her dog play outdoors in a story that utilizes math and science concepts.

The unnamed, light-skinned, tutu-clad girl who narrates the story has a big imagination suited to creative play. She imagines herself as a queen, a pilot, and a pirate captain, with the dog assigned secondary roles in her imagined play settings. The dog speaks in its own canine language, with English translations provided. The brief text is primarily the girl’s commentary on their activities, integrated with a series of addition equations following the pattern set by the title. Each equation relates to a different experience of pretend play, building to more complicated structures by the end. Bold, computer-generated illustrations capture the girl’s spunky personality and the dog’s faithful, sometimes-feisty reactions, with lots of dialogue lines integrated into the art. The math equations are set in all capital letters, sometimes stretching over several pages to accommodate the plot. This two-tiered approach (story plus math equations to describe the plot) is a bit tricky to negotiate on first reading, but the structure is ultimately successful if readers are willing to look at things a little differently. An additional layer of meaning is provided by a map on the end pages illustrating the girl’s home base, with a key to the common objects transformed into play props.

A creative approach + math and science + a map = a book that both entertains and teaches. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-234517-2
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2016


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