Thursday, November 13, 2008


GREATER ESTIMATIONS by Bruce Goldstone (Holt)
How many rubber duckies are on the cover of this book? Ask that question, and even before you break the binding, kids will be engaged in the wonderful speculation that is so much a part real-world math. Using concrete and colorful photographs against a white background and "hints" at the bottom of every page, the author introduces strategies such as "clump counting" and "box and count." The book offers opportunities not only to estimate amount but size and weight, and builds conceptually until children are making informed guesses as to how many hairs on a cat, or blades of grass on a football field. This companion volume to GREAT ESTIMATIONS stands on its own, and will also appeal to fans of Greg Tang's math series, which so cleverly makes math a visual adventure. This is my kind of test prep, and believe me, after sharing this book with a class, the game of "guess how many jelly beans in a jar" will never be the same again. (7 and up)

Also of interest:
FUN WITH ROMAN NUMERALS by David Adler, illustrated by Edward Miller III (Holiday House) Personally, this is the only kind of math I could ever truly understand, probably because it is all the alphabet, and only involves addition and subtraction. This book relies heavily on direct-instruction style text and examples, with a chunky, chummy style of illustration set in Roman times. This thorough introduction will have children reading publication dates and Super Bowl numbers in no time. (7 and up)

SPOT THE DIFFERENCES by Steven Rosen (Scholastic) Not a math book per se, but one that, like GREATER ESTIMATIONS, requires a lot of visual acuity. This is a fairly irresistible game book of sorts, in which two similar photographs are placed side-by-side and the young picture detective goes to work. Divided by seasons, the photographic scenes are absolutely juicy with color. A clear and helpful answer key is in the back. This book is beautiful and fun, and the kind that kids gather around and squeal about. (6 and up)

On a personal note:
I went to Grant Park on election night (one of the million perks of living in Chicago). Perhaps you saw me on television; I was the one waving. Congratulations to our new President-elect and his family, and good luck. Good luck to us all in this time of hard work...
Plowshares demand more of us than swords. The work of peace is infinitely more difficult than the waging of war. For one thing we've had so little practice--not only little practice in peacemaking, but also so little practice in imagining it.

--Katherine Paterson, from a 1993 speech given for Children's Literature New England
Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.
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teacherninja said...

Oh, if it's anything like Tang I need it. This is just the kind of thing my students need more of, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I saw Greater Estimations at a new book review at a local store and thought it looked fabulous. Great reviews!

rathacat said...

I really like the Katharine Paterson quote. I think one of the most important tasks of a writer is to imagine ways to peace and show them to readers. Showing alternatives to war in solving conflicts can make thoughtful reading. To imagine something is to make it possible. I have tried to do it in a small way in my own work because kids and adults need more practice in doing so.

Clare Bell
author: Ratha series

carey said...

greater estimations is exactly the kind of book i'm looking for right now. thank you!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I would have loved to have been in Grant Park that night!

Esme, I would be happy to send you a copy of my picture book, Hop Plop, for your school (it is on the CPS Recommended Purchase List), if you give me an address.


Lindsay said...

These look incredible. I can't think of a better way to learn math, and can't wait to read them with my children!

Mary Lee said...

The Paterson quote is perfect. Thanks!

Teaching Enthusiast said...

I sooooo enjoy reading your book recommendations! Thanks for your hard work!

Anonymous said...

David Adler is a great writer.. many thanks for your wonderful work


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