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4.8 out of 5 stars65
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on February 5, 2001
A moral and a math tale rolled into one. What more could you ask, except for some delightful illustrations modeled after Indian art and culture? This book is such a pleasure that besides obtaining a copy from myself, I gave one to my mathematics advisor, who thought it was cute as well. It's a clever illustration of the doubling function and a useful teaching tool for the younger grades.
The text is well-written and appropriate for its audience, the pictures are colorful and elegant, and the pull-out poster is just plain fun. What child wouldn't like a scene that simply depicts 256 elephants marching across the page? And the story of a girl who teaches a ruler to be kind and just is classic-not to mention that, being a girl myself, I appreciate the message that is sent by the intelligent main character being female. Finally, the very last page of the book contains a helpful chart that corresponds the grains of rice Rani receives each day to the day she receives it on.
As a side note, parents might find it a fun project to replicate this tale in real life by giving a child a penny and then doubling it for seven days. At the end of the week the child would be the proud owner of $1.27, not to mention possess some newfound math skills. I would advise you to restrict it to a week instead of the thirty days that is used in the book, though. Unless, of course, you've got the $10,737,400 you would be obligated to give lying around the house in spare change. ^_~
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on February 23, 2003
We checked this book out from the library 3 years ago when she was five. That year it was at the top of her Christmas wish list. Now three years later it is still one her favorite books. This book has a positive moral about greed and courage. It features a smart, courageous and generous female character who uses math to out whit a greedy raja. It also shows children that sharing and kindness are rewards in themselves. Plus the math lesson is fun and educational. What more could a parent ask for? We could ask for fantastic Indian art illustrations which the book is filled with. So this book does have it all. A positive moral, a brave heroine, an educational math lesson and wonderful vibrant illustrations.
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on July 3, 2002
This book has many strong points. It features a strong and clever female heroine. It makes mathematics fun. The sumptuous illustratations imitate the style of Classical Indian miniatures. But I have a major reservation: all the characters appear Caucasian, with very white skin and very rosy cheeks, even though the book is set in India, and the characters wear Indian clothing. We bought this book for our daughter, whom we adopted from India. I wish that she could see in this book a brave and resourceful heroine who is BROWN like her.
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VINE VOICEon November 1, 2005
My daughter is three and loves this book -- not just for the gorgeous fold-out illustrated spread of the caravan of elephants carrying the rice on the 30th day -- but because she can follow along with the story. The tale is of a rich greedy rajah who doesn't want to share, but is then outwitted by a young girl and forced to give up all the grain in his storehouses. At the end, he is humbled and vows to be a more fair and wise ruler. My daughter loves to sit with one grain of rice in her hand like Rani on the title page of the book. I can see her forming rudimentary mathematical concepts, but I won't push it. There's plenty of time to return to this book when we introduce the times tables.

The visual progression of the increasing volume of rice is shown by the variety of animals which deliver the daily ration. First, just a series of birds with grains of rice in their beaks. Then on to a leopard, a tiger, and a lion each carrying a small pouch in their mouths. By the sixteenth day, a goat is pulling a cart on which sits a bag of rice. On the twenty-fourth day, eight deer each bring her a basket strapped to their backs. And so on until the enormous procession of elephants! The last page of the book is a very useful table called "from one grain of rice to one billion" which shows the actual numerical progression. Demi outdid herself with this book, which any homeschooling family will find useful.
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on March 12, 2002
Demi sweeps us away with this story of a little girl whose quick thinking and knowlege of mathematics teaches a raja a lesson and saves her village.
This story touches on many levels, the first of which is the visual. A few of its glossy pages, each the quality of a fine color print, unfold to over two feet in length for the purpose of illustrating a mathematic principle that could never be explained as well only in words, no matter how many. It also serves up a well-told tale, set in India, that holds a child to the last. Finally, it offers lessons in generosity, keeping one's word, providing for the future, and helping the poor. "A Grain of Rice" is truly original, however, in the way that it brings all of these elements, particularly the mathematic and the humanitarian, together in one arrestingly beautiful book.
This would make a touching gift to anyone who enjoys Indian art and design or mathematics, regardless of age. It is also a perfect gift for a child as it is both aesthetically pleasing and educational--what parent could want more in a children's book?
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on July 6, 1999
I use this clever story in my math class to teach students about the power of exponents. It is a great way to introduce different cultures, good values and language arts into the math classroom. It is good for all ages, preschoolers to adults!
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on March 5, 1999
This book has stunning illustrations in the style of Indian miniature paintings, including some surprise fold-out pages. It is educational and entertaining on many levels: it illustrates a difficult math concept, it tells a dynamic fable from another country, and it is beautiful to look at. Art, literature, and math convene in one delightful children's book. It would make a wonderful gift. My son enjoys it even though he is only 5, because he often wonders about big numbers, and the story is adventurous enough to hold his attention. 5 stars plus!
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on October 17, 2004
The story One Grain of Rice A Mathematical Folktale, has a worthwhile theme, teaching morals and the importance of keeping one's promises. The book also touches on the need to plan for the future, as well as teaching a mathematical concept. The book tells the story of a village girl named Rani who outsmarts a raja; teaching him a valuable lesson in the process.

The illustrations are just as important as the text in telling and moving the story along. The drawings of Rani appear to move across the page--drawing the reader's eyes to follow her to the next page of the story. The book evokes the reader's curiosity and encourages him/her to predict the outcome of the story. The reader is touched on an emotional level with the introduction of the real-life situation of famine and one person's humanitarian solution to the problem.

From a mathematical viewpoint the story provides a base on which to build and expand one's knowledge of patterns and relationships; encouraging the use of algebraic thinking in order to solve the mathematical problem presented in the story. A problem I had with the story was that I felt the story was written at about a 1-4th grade level while the mathematical question it presented was more appropriate for a 6th grade classroom. The book dealt with this by including double-page fold outs that helped to illustrate to younger readers how the number of grains of rice were growing. My favorite aspect of the book was the use of the female character of Rani. The book showed that females are capable of understanding and in some cases outsmarting males when it comes to mathematical concepts and knowledge.

One Grain of Rice provides a multitude of opportunities for teachers and students to research and expand on details presented in the story. Students may want to explore the culture, art, and governments of other countries such as India. They may also want to learn about the different types of animals illustrated in the story, or discover where rice comes from and how it is grown. Teachers may want to expand the mathematical lesson further by giving his/her students the task of discovering how many people the rice Rani received as her reward would feed. The book One Grain of Rice A Mathematical Folktale would be a wonderful addition to any library or classroom.
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on January 17, 2000
This is a wonderful story. I read it to my four year old daughter, and she loves it. It teaches the power of math, and it shows a culture very different from our own. Fabulous art work.
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on April 19, 2006
This is Demi's re-telling of an old folktale of a king who orders that all rice in his kingdom must be stored in the royal granaries so that there would be food in times of famine; but when his people start to go hungry, he refuses to open the granaries, claiming that the situation was not bad enough to warrant doing so - until a small child outsmarts him by asking for a grain of rice doubled every day for a month.

I love this book because there is a lot to be learned from it. Of course, there is the math: the concept of doubling and how quickly doubling makes the numbers grow. There is the art: lovely Indian-inspired illustrations with stunning gold effects. There are also moral lessons, namely that power can corrupt, and that even a small child can teach a mighty king.

Then, there is a special lesson for all little girls everywhere - that girls can do math. After all, the math-smart hero of the story is a little girl herself.
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