It is not so much that the numbers boggle as that they simply fly by.
Great-sized numbers are undeniably awesome—like the digits in pi—but they are also undeniably abstract. Yes, it is fun to grind the brain cogs for a bit, but the game soon cools. Rosen does try very hard here to keep it real: all kid characters are 4 feet tall and weigh 60 pounds to make for a standard unit of measurement, and he puts them in settings that at least some readers can relate to: mowing the yard, writing a birthday card, in a swimming pool. How many school days and glasses of lemonade to fill the pool (Olympic-sized pool; 660,000 gallons; 8-ounce glasses; premixed lemonade; 600 kids helping = 98 glasses poured in by all students for 179 school days, for a total of 10.5 million glasses of lemonades)? Each question is posed in a letter to Ms. Mary Math and then answered in a breezy, exclamation-mark–laden narrative piece (with longer explanations in the back of the book, along with metric conversions and concept definitions), while the entertaining Patton works the mixed-media pedals, featuring a multiracial mix of children in fanciful scenarios. Still, it all feels a bit forced, and the dizzying number of numbers in Ms. Mary Math’s responses can make the eyes cross.
How many readers who make it through would go back for a second go-round? Hmm. (Informational picture book. 7-11)