7 x 9 = Trouble!


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. ...

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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.


7 x 9 = Trouble! is a 2003 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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

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Editorial Reviews

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
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374464523
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 9/10/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 285,892
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.57 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Claudia Mills has written many books for children, including the Gus and Grandpa series of beginning readers and, most recently, the middle-grade novel Lizzie at Last. This is her first chapter book. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

G. Brian Karas is the author and/or illustrator of numerous picture books. 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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