A little girl and her talking dog use addition and subtraction to plan a birthday party in this Korean import.
Ruffer’s birthday is in four days, and Nora, an Asian girl with freckles, and her pup are busily preparing. First the invitations—11 for Nora’s three friends and their pets: 3+6+2=11. Then the waiting; subtraction helps Ruffer keep track of how many days are left. A shortage of eggs sends Nora and Ruffer to the store, where they use subtraction to determine sale prices. Finally it’s party time, and more arithmetic is used to add up gifts and determine the winner of ring toss. Backmatter links math to the real world and teaches readers a (unexciting) math game. A final spread presents a few more math problems, answers filled in. In all, the story is too long and involved to really serve as a quick math lesson, as Michael Garland does so well in How Many Mice? (2007), and it lacks the humor and energy of Ethan Long’s The Wing Wing Brothers Math Spectacular! (2012) or Caroline Stills’ Mice Mischief, illustrated by Judith Rossell (2014). Spot and spread artwork adequately portrays the math but doesn’t do much to extend the story, and the characters sometimes just look awkward. Observant children who have experience shopping also may raise eyebrows at the prices in the store.
This fails to either ask kids to do the math or truly entertain. (Picture book. 5-8)