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TEN TIMES BETTER by Richard Michelson Kirkus Star


by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Leonard Baskin

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7614-5070-X
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Paintings full of freshness and spirit, poems whimsical and sly, and yes, even a bit of mathematics all make this book irresistible. Starting with the elephant: “My favorite number’s number ONE. / When I was ONE, I weighed ONE ton. / When I get hot, my ONE big schnoz’ll / double as a shower nozzle.” but the response comes from the squid, who says TEN tentacles are TEN TIMES BETTER for cleaning and counting. The bactrian camel praises TWO as the coolest number, but the male sage grouse retorts with his TEN TIMES BETTER twenty tail feathers, and so on. The ants’ six legs are trumped by the crocodile’s sixty teeth, nine armadillo bands by ninety zebra stripes, and after getting to the ten toes and fingers of the chimps and the one hundred bumblebees, another series of mathematical questions are posed. These accompany some simple descriptions, illustrated by the splendid animals just met. The answers are not only given, but offered with explications that make kid-sense: how many words the chimp Washoe learned by the time she was five—the answer is 130, “about how many different words are in the poetry part of this book.” The wordplay is completely engaging, and artist Baskin, who has been delighting generations of children at least since Hosie’s Alphabet, triumphs again with evocative and often startling animal images in a muted palette. (Picture book. 5-10)