A clever princess and a simple man solve a measurement problem and find true love in this fairy-tale–like math story.
When King Balbazar and his subjects have trouble making doors and drapes and robes fit, the king decides to hold a contest to find a standard unit of measurement, a husband for his daughter and his successor—he wants to retire. Princess Star judges the contest, dressed as a peasant, her basket hiding a crown for the winner. But things look glum when the men begin measuring with nuts, swords (of different sizes), goats and even pickles. It takes a simple man with no belongings—and no shoes—to come up with the foot as a unit of measure. And the rest is history…although an author’s “foot note” explains what is really known about the origins of a foot. Harris’ ABCB rhyming verses have a nice rhythm to them and some interesting pairings—sickles with pickles. But the speech-bubble asides that are integral to the tale do not rhyme, and this detracts from the flow of the text. Stevanovic’s cartoonish illustrations are filled with detail, but his characters steal the show, their pointy and/or pendulous noses and appendages lending each a distinct personality.
Though it is regrettable that in neither story nor note is the metric system, the international standard, mentioned, still, save about half an inch (or roughly 1 cm) on your shelves for this one. (Math picture book. 4-8)