A Very Improbable Story: A Math Adventure

What are the odds? Ethan wakes up one morning to find a very strange cat stuck on his head. The cat, Odds, refuses to budge until Ethan wins a game of probability. Without looking, Ethan must pick out a dime from his coin collection or two matching socks from his dresser, or do something else improbable. If he doesn't, Odds is there to stay, and Ethan has a 100%…  See more details below

Overview

What are the odds? Ethan wakes up one morning to find a very strange cat stuck on his head. The cat, Odds, refuses to budge until Ethan wins a game of probability. Without looking, Ethan must pick out a dime from his coin collection or two matching socks from his dresser, or do something else improbable. If he doesn't, Odds is there to stay, and Ethan has a 100% chance of missing his big soccer game. A very improbable story about a challenging math concept.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kids who like math will readily overlook the contrived storytelling for this book's clear introduction to an underserved topic: probability. On the day of the last soccer match of the season, Ethan awakens to discover that a talking cat, fittingly named Odds, has attached itself to his head and won't get off until the boy wins a probability game. " 'Don't put on your socks yet,' ordered Odds.... 'You'll win if you can pull out 2 matching socks without looking.' " Einhorn's (Paradox in Oz) cut-to-the-chase style will have math enthusiasts rapidly engaging their skills to keep up with the fast-paced albeit strained dialogue. The supercilious Odds refuses to give an inch and seemingly delights in the boy's initial missteps ("Ta-dah!... You lose," he quips, more than once). Despite Odds's disdainful style, Ethan eventually wins a game and goes on to figure his soccer goal-making odds. Gustavson (The Last Day of School) helps explain the subject with occasional vignettes (for example, an illustration of possible marble color combinations clarifies Ethan's chances of pulling two white marbles during one of the cat's challenges) but otherwise his paintings seem forced. Ages 7-10. (Feb.)

Kirkus Reviews
The latest of the Charlesbridge Math Adventures tackles the idea of probability. Ethan awakens one morning to find an unfamiliar cat named Odds on his head. Odds refuses to get off until Ethan wins a probability game. But that's not as easy as it sounds. Ethan fails to choose a dime from his bank, or to find two matching socks from his drawer of ten pairs. It is when his sister brings out the marbles that the true teaching moment begins. Ethan lays out color pairs to determine what the odds are of pulling out two white marbles from a bag of 100 of four equal colors. It isn't until breakfast that Ethan finally wins. By then, he has taken the lesson to heart and realizes that probability could help him win his upcoming soccer game. Gustavson's oil paintings highlight the improbability of Ethan's situation-his attempts to remove Odds, and failing that, to conceal him, will have readers in stitches. Each of Ethan and Odds facial expressions speaks volumes. Aside from its rather sluggish start, this is solid math that also teaches children about its applicability in the wider world. (Picture book. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607341208
Publisher:
Charlesbridge
Publication date:
02/01/2008
Series:
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
997,677
Lexile:
File size:
11 MB
Note:
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Edward Einhorn is the author of THE LIVING HOUSE OF OZ (Hungry Tiger Press), and PARADOX IN OZ (Hungry Tiger Press), a centennial sequal to the Wizard of Oz series. He is also a playwright and the artistic director of Untitled Theater Company #61, a theater group producing drama with a philosophical bent. He lives in New York City.

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