Flatt and Barron’s second in the Math in Nature series solves many of the first’s problems, though the rhythms and rhymes remain inconsistent, and there is still no answer key.
Flatt leads readers through sorting, charts and comparisons, though they will need familiarity with these concepts—math is tested but not taught in these pages, and the questions are not always the most basic. “If 8 hummingbird eggs equal 4 robin eggs, which two ratios are correct: 3 to 1, 8 to 4, 5 to 1, 2 to 1?” On a page that finds the fox family wondering what Father will catch: “Is their dinner impossibly, unlikely, likely, or certainly a vole? A gray squirrel? A rabbit? A cat?” Several pages also ask open-ended questions, allowing readers to both construct meaning from the artwork and explain it. “Nature Notes” give a few brief facts about the featured creatures. As in Counting on Fall (2012), Barron’s gorgeous cut-paper collages are certainly the highlight, drenching every page in spring sights and colors. Objects are easy to delineate from the background, though that doesn’t always mean that the answers are easy to find: On the schooling smelt page, readers are asked to find two patterns. One is a simple, ABA repeating pattern, while the other asks readers to notice that the groups of fish increase by two.
The simple is juxtaposed with the challenging, making the book both flexible and hard to pin down, audience-wise. (Math picture book. 5-10)