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Children's LiteratureAs Maggie, Nathan, Yoshi, and Scott head to school on the first day of the new school year, their friend Toby comments on how weird they look. The stage for the story is set as the kids explain that they are "cool." They are preparing for 100 days of cool and will, from now until the end of the book, think of ways to make a statement to this effect in a counting that will last for months on end. Their teacher, Mrs. Lopez, rises to the challenge by saying she will host a party on the 100th day. And so as the boys and girls wear cool socks, decorate their bikes, and paste sparkles on their faces, they also count up the days. To help the reader along, a number line appears at the top of every other pair of pages, and various numbers are posted here. In addition, Toby makes ongoing comments, which are portrayed in a cartoon bubble. For instance, he remarks (as if to the reader) that there are only 98 days to go. Later he says that the students are one tenth of the way there. These remarks are used sparingly, and it's not possible to grasp too many greater truths by reading them. However, the end matter contains a list of activities for adults and kids. These seem most appropriate for adults teaching kids, and they may come in handy for a classroom teacher. As part of a series, this selection is called a Level 2 "MathStart" book. The illustrator has done a fine job of injecting a sense of urgency and amusement into the story, and it is a delight to look at the beginning and ending spreads, which are awash in colorful numbers. MathStart: Numbers 1—100. 2004, HarperCollins, and Ages 4 to 8.
—Susan Schott Karr