Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyHere is a tale full of exotic, old-world flavor which takes place at a palace in ancient India. Detailed drawings show a fortress made of tall minarets and spires, heralds astride decorated elephants, servants bearing shields, and a turbaned ruler bedecked in rich jewels. The story itself is a parable about a powerful king and a wise man whose simple requesta grain of rice doubled for each square of the king's chessboardproves to be an impossible challenge for the royal granary. A amusing scenario unfolds as the amount of rice multiplies daily, causing great curiosity among the villagers and embarrassment to the prideful king, who learns a valuable lesson. Ages 5-up. (March)
Children's Literature - Beverly KobrinDavid Birch's version of the The King's Chessboard, now in affordable paperback, is the classic story of the wise servant who suggests his king reward him with but one grain of rice on the first square of a chessboard, two grains on the second, and double the previous amount for each succeeding square until all are covered. The king agrees and youngsters quickly learn that were he to keep his word, he would have to give the servant 549,755,830,887 tons of rice! It's a wonderful story to introduce or reinforce the concept of exponential growth.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 2-6 The king of the title is an Indian potentate who receives a service from a wiseman and insists on repaying the fa vor. The wiseman finally requests the familiar mathematical puzzle of the chessboard, on whose first square is placed a single grain of rice, on whose second square is placed two grains, four on the third square, and so on. The king, who is too proud to admit that he can't calculate the sum total of the gift, foolishly grants the wish, at least until it becomes clear that it will wipe out his stock. Finally, in spite of his pride, he takes back his repayment, justly em barrassed because of his stupidity and the wiseman's obvious generosity in not wanting a repayment in the first place. The story may be recognizable to older readers familiar with mathemati cal puzzles, but it will be new to begin ning mathematicians and readers. The tale is simply told, and the primitive watercolor pictures, with some bright jewel tones to set off the otherwise an tique cast of the colors, aptly comple ment this original folktale. Although the text is too complicated for begin ners to master on their own, this picture book is so masterfully told that they will listen to it attentively. Ruth K. MacDonald, Department of English, New Mexico State Univ . , Las Cruces
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