1+1=5 AND OTHER UNLIKELY ADDITIONS by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Brenda Sexton (Sterling, 2010) When does 1+1=5? How about 1 set of triplets + 1 set of twins = 5 babies! Does 1+1=14? Yes, when 1 ant + 1 spider = 14 legs! Sometimes 1+1= hundreds and hundreds, if you are counting the seeds in 1 pumpkin + 1 watermelon! And more traditional number-crunchers needn't worry, 1+1 does ultimately equal 2, if you count two friends. This ingenious book makes the impossible very possible by exploring outside of the box, and while it may not do wonders for math skills, it certainly creates magic when it comes to divergent thinking. Bright, geometric illustrations nicely bordered and framed make every page fun to turn, and add a sense of order to the boundless imagination that this book will inspire. For older children, use it as a warm-up to the more advanced mathematical poems in Betsy Franco's marvelous MATHEMATICKLES (where a tadpole=2/3 frog, and cold air divided by breath = tiny cloud). Easily one of the most inventive books of the year, what creative math problems can your children devise with such inspiration? 1 crazy original read-aloud + 1 classroom/homeschooler/booklover eager to look at math in a whole new way = integrated learning. It all adds up. (6 and up)
Also of interest:
Other new picture books to add to the teacher's fall reading pantry.
SIVU'S SIX WISHES by Jude Daly (Eerdmans, 2010) Sivu the stonemason has a talent for carving beautiful sculpture, but he remains unsatisfied. How wonderful it must be to have the power of the rich businessman who patronizes his work! Magically, Sivu's wish is granted. When he discovers being a businessman is no all it's cracked up to be, he wishes he could be the mayor, passing by so grandly with his entourage. Wah-lah! And so it goes, with the poor megalomaniac striving ever higher. To be the sun! To be a rain cloud! To be the wind! To be a rock! But for all his ambition, what turns out to be the most powerful job of all? This retelling of the celebrated Taoist tale "The Stone Cutter" set in modern Africa doubles as an homage to artists everywhere and is clearly told, rife with the kind of poignant and memorable irony of Ed Young's resonant I, DOKO. A read-aloud folktale with a surprise ending? What more could anyone wish? (6 and up)
THE CIRCULATORY STORY by Mary K. Corcoran, illustrated by Jef Czekaj (Charlesbridge, 2010) It's hard to resist this guided tour of about 60,000 miles through the circulatory system of a fetching redhead, all narrated by a little green guy traversing through her insides, kind of like The Great Gazoo meets Miss Frizzle's Magic School Bus. A mix of the colloquial and clinical, the adventures are often put into meaningful contexts with which children will identify, like the forming of scabs or the cause and effect relationship between junk food and arterial plaque. While I confess I still have a special place in my heart (or at least my left ventricle) for Steve Alton's BLOOD AND GOO AND BOOGERS, TOO for use in second grade studies of the human body, and David Macaulay's inimitable THE WAY WE WORK for older kids, the text here is generous and conversational, and the overall comical treatment might very well set reluctant readers' blood racing, making it a desirable addition to a thematic collection. A glossary helps with words like "fibrin" and "macrophage." Don't know what those mean? See, you need this book. (7 and up)
HOW ROCKET LEARNED TO READ by Tad Hills (Schwartz & Wade, 2010)
As Rocket breathed in the crisp air, the little yellow bird hung her banner. "Ah, the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet," she marveled. "Where it all begins."
Lucky for Rocket, this chirpy teacher is willing to take the illiterate pup under her wing. Reticent at first, the lure of a good read-aloud with puppy-centered interest draws Rocket into the world of the word, learning to sound out each letter. But when the little yellow bird flies away, can Rocket keep up with his studies? Illustrations of Rocket running through the snow to form letters, nosing in the springtime dirt to spell "m-u-d" or feeling every lonely letter of the wind's "w-h-o-o-s-h," we join in the dog's eagerness for his encouraging teacher's return; likewise, we feel the little yellow pedagogues' dedication and effervescence trill out on these pages like a songbird's high note. Darling artwork done in oil paint and colored pencils are perfectly matched to the pert, well-chosen words that comprise the text, and ultimately, this book conveys the best of what we could want to say about education: to learn to read is both an opportunity and a joy, and it's a two-way street between teacher and student. Moreover, it says it in the nicest way. A pleasure from endpaper to endpaper and from both poles of the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet, this book about the gift of learning should be a gift to every teacher this September, and then read to every primary student. L-o-v-e-l-y. (5 and up)
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