7 x 9 = Trouble!

Overview

Wilson Williams worries about passing his times-table tests

Wilson has a hard time with math, especially with Mrs. Porter¿s timed multiplication tests. If only he were as quick as Laura Vicks, the smartest kid in third grade, or as quick as his brother, Kipper ¿ a kindergartner. Wilson¿s mother and father try to help, but Wilson doesn¿t appreciate having to do practice tests on a play date. Fortunately, his friend Josh Hernandez is a comfort, ...
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Overview

Wilson Williams worries about passing his times-table tests

Wilson has a hard time with math, especially with Mrs. Porter¿s timed multiplication tests. If only he were as quick as Laura Vicks, the smartest kid in third grade, or as quick as his brother, Kipper ¿ a kindergartner. Wilson¿s mother and father try to help, but Wilson doesn¿t appreciate having to do practice tests on a play date. Fortunately, his friend Josh Hernandez is a comfort, as is Squiggles, the class hamster. Wilson is sure that with his own little animal squeaking and cuddling beside him, he could learn anything. But his mom doesn¿t like pets. So Wilson bravely struggles on, hoping that one day in the not-too-distant future he¿ll pass all his times-table tests. Then, surprisingly, Kipper comes to the rescue.

With sensitivity and gentle humor, Claudia Mills examines a common childhood fear and a common family experience. G. Brian Karas provides tender, funny pictures.

Third-grader Wilson struggles with his times-tables in order to beat the class deadline.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Wilson Williams feels like the only kid in his third grade class who can't learn his times-tables. The other kids are sailing through each level to earn the ice cream cone reward. Wilson thinks he'll be a "huge, hulking fifth grader, practically a grown man," before he passes all the tests. Worse, Wilson's five-year-old brother is smart in math. He can even do multiplication. When Wilson brings home Squiggles, the class hamster, he is able to study his parents' practice tests easier. If only he had a pet of his own! Wilson's anxieties increase with each table as he scales the multiplication mountain. When Squiggles escapes his cage, Wilson draws a lifelike poster, revealing his talent in art. Though he finishes last in the math race, he realizes he doesn't have to be good at everything. But Wilson's relationship with his little brother is the heart of the story. Wilson recognizes Kipper as a real person, not just a pest who drags around stuffed animals. Multiply well-balanced writing with gentle humor and the answer is a winning first chapter book. 2002, Farrar Straus Giroux,
— Candice Ransom
School Library Journal
Gr 2-3-Students who are having difficulty with math will enjoy this lighthearted story. Third-grader Wilson Williams needs to pass all the times-table tests by March 16th in order to get an ice-cream cone from his teacher. While the child is talented in art, he is envious of his friends Laura and Josh, who have completed their tests and have received their cones. He is also envious of his younger brother Kipper, a kindergartner who is placed in a special math group because he has started learning the times tables on his own. While the main theme revolves around Wilson passing the tests, an important subplot deals with his desire for a pet and taking home the class hamster for a weekend. All's well in the end-Wilson passes the 12 times table at the last minute, and he and Kipper will be getting a pet hamster. While this chapter book is entertaining and no doubt many youngsters will relate to the story, it is unfortunate that the author reinforces negative feelings about studying math. Wilson never seems to comprehend the concept of multiplication, and no one makes an effort to teach him.-Marilyn Ackerman, Brooklyn Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Wilson would be having a wonderful time in third grade if he could learn his multiplication tables. But there they are—mocking him with their inexplicable patterns and never-ending challenges. He even has to take a note home to his parents asking for help, and now everyone is in on the act. Seems to Wilson that everyone can learn the tables except for him: Laura Vicks, the class brain, Josh Hernandez, his best friend, and even his little kindergartner brother is better with numbers than Wilson is. There is much to like in this tale for new readers. The sensible and helpful parents comfort Wilson when the timed tests prove daunting, never threatening or humiliating him because he struggles. His teacher Mrs. Porter is supportive of him, gently nudging him to try, try again. Even the other children in the class are patient and encouraging when Wilson is the final third grader to attempt the twelves tables. Someone has to be last to get his the reward of the ice cream cone and everyone is pulling for Wilson. The dialogue is realistic but not predictable, and the situations are pure third grade with subplots about a class hamster, a best friend who makes up droll rhymes, and an adoring little brother who gets in the way sometimes. Mills (Gus and Grandpa at Basketball, 2001, etc.) gets the serious parts just right, too. Wilson is truly worried about the multiplication tables. Wilson and little brother Kipper really do want a pet. Wilson's parents truly want to help Wilson, but are willing to let him take responsibility for his own challenges. With its short chapters, familiar story line, and Karas's (Muncha, Muncha, Muncha, 2002, etc.) warm, light-touch illustrations, this adds up to anexcellent selection for the new chapter book reader. (Fiction. 7-10)
From the Publisher
"It's not just 7 x 9 but multiplication in general that is trouble for third-grader Wilson WIlliams . . . Mills' sympathetic and detailed treatment of Wilson's travails makes this both a suspenseful and satisfying beginning chapter book." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

It's not just 7 x 9 but multiplication in general that is trouble for third-grader Wilson WIlliams . . . Mills' sympathetic and detailed treatment of Wilson's travails makes this both a suspenseful and satisfying beginning chapter book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374367466
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/9/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 10.86 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author


Claudia Mills

Some writers say that they hate to write. I love to write. I write my books early in the morning, while the rest of my family is still asleep. I get up at 5 a.m., fix myself a mug of hot chocolate or Earl Grey tea, and then curl up on the couch with my pad and pen. I still write the first draft of every book by hand, always on a white, narrow-ruled pad, and always with a black, felt-tipped, fine-point pen. Sometimes I lie there half dreaming, making notes on my pad that say things like "Help! Where is the humor??!!" or "I need more action!" Sometimes I scribble away as fast as my hand can move across the page, lost in the world of my story. I write until breakfast, or until my two boys wake up, whichever comes first. Usually I don't get much more than one page written in a day. But page by page, day by day, on the couch at dawn, I've written many books now.

I didn't always write on the couch, and I didn't always write with the same kind of pad and pen. When I was growing up in New Jersey, I wrote anywhere and everywhere often during math class, which is why I never learned much algebra. When I finally collected all my childhood writings from my parents' house, I had a drawer full of hundreds of poems I had written before I was sixteen. There were poems scrawled on napkins, on the backs of church bulletins, and, of course, on math tests, where the answers should have been. But I have always loved the early morning best.

Now I live in Boulder, Colorado, with my husband, Richard Wahl, and my two sons, Christopher and Gregory. All my first books were about girls show-off girls, shy girls, selfish girls, unselfish girls but all somehow me, reflections of the girl I once was, and still am deep inside. Now I find myself writing about boys, too, inspired by the two real-life boys who share my days. When I was expecting the birth of my first child, I was stunned when the doctor told me it would be a boy: "But all my books are about girls!" "Well, now you'll have to start writing books about boys,"he told me, and his prediction came true.

I've also started writing stories about younger children, though most of my stories are set in the middle grades. I remember a poem I wrote the day before I turned ten, which began: "There is much magic in the age / Of ten, that year as rich as gold…" Ten and eleven and twelve have certainly been magical and rich ages for me as a writer. When I go to schools, I tell the children that they could spend the rest of their lives just writing books about the things that happened to them in fifth grade.

So between 5 and 7 a.m. every day, I return to fifth grade, or sixth grade, sometimes even seventh, and, between sips of cocoa or tea, I bring that world to life again.

And I love doing it.

G. Brian Karas has illustrated many best-selling books for children, including Cinder-Elly, Good Knight, My Crayons Talk, and Truman's Aunt Farm. Mr. Karas has also written several books, including The Windy Day. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    My daughter LOVED it!

    Very good book for lots of levels of readers. Our school did a book club one day after they all read it and broke out into small groups to discuss. As a parent, I loved the innocence of it. No issues that weren't age appropriate and just good, clean fun.

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    Posted April 23, 2010

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