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Less Than Zero (MathStart 3) Paperback – August 14, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stuart J. Murphy is a visual learning specialist. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he has a strong background in design and art direction. He also has extensive experience in the world of educational publishing. Drawing on all these talents, Stuart J. Murphy brings a unique perspective to the MathStart series. In MathStart books, pictures do more than tell stories; they teach math.

Stuart J. Murphy and his wife, Nancy, live in Boston.



Frank Remkiewicz illustrated the MathStart Books Rabbit's Pajama Party and Just Enough Carrots. He lives in Sarasota, FL.

In His Own Words...

"I was the kind of kid who was always reading or drawing. Since I was drawing well before I started school, I always considered art to have seniority over the likes of long division and medieval history. This attitude got me into difficulties more than once. My favorite subjects were horses, cartoons, wildlife, and contraptions that rolled, floated, tooted, or flew. My heroes of the day were illustrators like Bill Peet, Robert Lawson, and Kurt Weiss. They provided me with a screenful of imagery that I'll never forget.

"Winter in kindergarten found us all painting Santas at our tables. Mine came out so good that I was asked to do it over again on a huge piece of brown paper that covered the chalkboard. Santa would be bigger than me. I was excused from the regular stuff, given larger brushes, more paint-and sure enough, here came Santa. This was only the beginning. Other teachers, seeing the mural-sized figure, 'borrowed' me to do the same for first- and second-grade classrooms. Flattered but somewhat embarrassed, I took heart, since these gigs were getting me out of a lot of tedious activities like nap time, scissors, yarn, and flash cards. 'All I ever needed to know, I learned in kindergarten' may be true. Twenty years later I found myself on Madison Avenue at Norcross Greeting Cards-yes, drawing Santa Claus.

"I've always been drawn to the field of humor. Since I'm writing and illustrating my own stories now, I try to make them funny in an outrageous or off-the-wall way. During classroom presentations, I again find myself by the chalkboard in front of the kids. Now we are seeking ways to write and draw those ideas that squeeze their way through the everyday chores of our minds. It's a thrill to watch my own book being read by a group of children, and I like it when they smile. But I love it when they laugh."

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Series: MathStart 3
  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (August 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060001267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060001261
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stuart J. Murphy is a visual learning specialist. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, he has a strong background in design and art direction. He also has extensive experience in the world of educational publishing. Drawing on all these talents, Stuart J. Murphy brings a unique perspective to the MathStart series. In MathStart books, pictures do more than tell stories; they teach math. Stuart J. Murphy and his wife, Nancy, live in Evanston, Illinois.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Sack VINE VOICE on December 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Perry the Penguin is trying to save enough money for a ice scooter. He needs 9 �clams�. He has none. Him mom pays him 4 clams for triming the ice in front of the house. He decides to make a graph. He charts out the money he earns on the graph. Then his friend invites him to the ice circus. Perry learns that it cost 5 clams. His friend loans him the extra clam he needs. He has several more encounters for earning and spending his clams, always charting his progress. He ends up in the negative a few times. But in the end he works out a way to get in ice scooter. I liked the way negative nubers were introduced in the book. The pictures kept my son�s attention.
I also liked the extra math activites at the end of the book. This is a great math teaching tool.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Abbey Rader on April 29, 2014
Format: Paperback
I read Less Than Zero. I'm in 3rd grade. I think this will be good for 3-4 graders. It is about negative numbers. I like this book because it has penguin characters and it also works with negative numbers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was purchased for an autistic child who loves numbers but hates to read. He loves this book. There is a nice repeating story line in which the Penguin makes some poor spending choices and then has to 'dig himself out of the hole' in his accounting. He writes a chart that marks how much money he earns and spends. He overspends and faces not being able to buy a highly desired sled that all the other penguins have. He earns back 'clams' to get back up above zero on his chart. If your child prefers numbers to words, this book provides a safe reading experience with about 5-10 sentences of text for every two pages.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a charming and educative book that every child needs. In fact, many adults would benefit from this insightful and accessible explanation of what's involved in spending more than you have!
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Less Than Zero (MathStart 3)
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