From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6–Tang's seventh entry in a series that includes The Grapes of Math
(2001) and Math-terpieces
(2003, both Scholastic) is another winner. Each spread includes a poem consisting of neatly rhymed couplets that first set a scene (I gaze into the evening sky,/Think great thoughts and wonder why) and concludes with a hint or suggestion as to how the objects on the opposing page might most efficiently be grouped to arrive at a sum (When you look up to the heavens,/Try to think in groups of sevens!). There are no overt patterns so that, as Tang says in his author's note, children are challenged to combine numbers in smart ways, not just obvious ways. The book concludes with clear diagrams and succinct explanations providing the solutions. Briggs's computer-generated art is crisp, clear, and delightfully quirky. For example, Sock Hop features a loafer on guitar, work boots on drums, and a high-heeled pump on keyboard. Puzzle-loving kids will pick this up on their own, and teachers could pair it with Jon Scieszka's Math Curse
(Viking, 1995) for an energizing departure from the standard math lesson.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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Gr. 3-5. The seventh in Tang's math series, which includes The Grapes of Math
(2000), this picture book uses all kinds of visual tricks to demonstrate how to make arithmetic faster and easier. On each double-page spread, a rhyming verse has fun with a variety of subjects. Most rhymes are about foods--including pickles, potatoes, and "flat-jacks"--and the bright, computer-generated pictures are as playful as the words. This goes far beyond the usual simple counting book. The games are complex, the visuals are tricky, and although the rhyme seems straightforward ("Instead of adding row by row / Columns are the way to go"), readers must think carefully about adding, subtracting, and multiplying. "Imagine eight in every row / Just subtract and you will know." The spacious, illustrated answer pages at the back explain the puzzles, which will be fun for classroom use as well as for kids trying to find shortcuts in the counting jungle. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved