Michelson and the recently deceased Baskin follow up A Book of Flies with an imaginative numbers book that picks up where most others leave off. Tackling the concept of multiplying by 10, the duo waltzes through a virtual bestiary of creatures who jostle and joust for position. When an elephant boasts, "When I get hot, my ONE big schnozz'll/ double as a shower nozzle," a squid retorts, "Big nose? Big deal. I'm TEN times wetter./ TEN tentacles are TEN TIMES BETTER." A three-toed sloth faces off against a 30-legged centipede, and a five-armed starfish is told off by a school of 50 goldfish. Michelson's jocular verse injects plenty of laughs into the calculations, while Baskin's jaunty, detailed watercolors deploy a sophisticated palette of muted autumnal hues. Several images are swallowed as they cross the gutter, a flaw for which the gatefold spread showing 100 "humble bumble bees" is partial compensation. An afterword explains more about each animal and throws in a related word problem ("If you weighed fifty pounds you could lift a fifty pound television set. Ants are TEN TIMES STRONGER. If an ant weighed fifty pounds, how many pounds could it lift?"). This one may not be precisely 10 times more fun than the average math concept book, but who's counting? Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
- Children's Literature
Let's say one of your favorite places to visit is the zoo. Furthermore, let's say you are in the third grade and you have to memorize your timetables for math. Not a pleasant task for most kids, or parents, patiently engaged in the homework project. Strange as it may seem, here is a book just for you! This delightful book, in rhyming poetry presents a wonderful watercolor illustration of an exotic animal on each page. The poems are enchantingly silly, and each one teaches the reader to multiply a number times 10. This book would fit easily in a science or math curriculum. It might also be welcome on a child's bedroom bookshelf. In the back of the book there is a section that offers details about each animal. Never neglecting the math instructional purpose, the author creatively weaves a final number to multiply into these descriptions. In case you doubt the cleverness of this approach, just ask your child what the book is about. My bet is their answer will be--animals! 2000, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 6 to 9, $17.95. Reviewer: Kathleen Orosz—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-The conceit to this collection is a little tricky to figure out at first: Michelson has used the idea of multiplying by 10 to present facts about various common and unusual animals. For instance, after a three-toed sloth brags of his digits, a centipede (whose illustration and text are set smaller in the corner of the same spread) proclaims: "Just three? Dear me. The centipede/is TEN TIMES BETTER. Built for speed,/our THIRTY feet are quite a plus./We're fast-if no one steps on us." Though his use of language is clever and precise, the author tries to get a lot into the four lines he allows each creature, and the capitalized numbers and overuse of enjambment bog down the reading. The verses do read aloud well, and the varied and off-center layouts (including a pullout for the final page) are pleasing from a distance, making this a good choice for storytimes. Additional facts, questions, and answers about each animal at the end (with an index) should be fun for individual readers. Baskin's vibrant, eerie, and humorous watercolors are a great enhancement to the intricately playful verses. Though not quite as successful a whole as this team's Animals That Ought to Be: Poems about Imaginary Pets (S & S, 1996), this is still a satisfying title that speaks to the sophisticate in school-aged kids. One hopes it won't be lost in the 510s, as its subject headings suggest.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Paintings full of freshness and spirit, poems whimsical and sly, and yes, even a bit of mathematics all make this book irresistible. Starting with the elephant: "My favorite number's number ONE. / When I was ONE, I weighed ONE ton. / When I get hot, my ONE big schnoz'll / double as a shower nozzle." but the response comes from the squid, who says TEN tentacles are TEN TIMES BETTER for cleaning and counting. The bactrian camel praises TWO as the coolest number, but the male sage grouse retorts with his TEN TIMES BETTER twenty tail feathers, and so on. The ants' six legs are trumped by the crocodile's sixty teeth, nine armadillo bands by ninety zebra stripes, and after getting to the ten toes and fingers of the chimps and the one hundred bumblebees, another series of mathematical questions are posed. These accompany some simple descriptions, illustrated by the splendid animals just met. The answers are not only given, but offered with explications that make kid-sense: how many words the chimp Washoe learned by the time she was five—the answer is 130, "about how many different words are in the poetry part of this book." The wordplay is completely engaging, and artist Baskin, who has been delighting generations of children at least since Hosie's Alphabet, triumphs again with evocative and often startling animal images in a muted palette. (Picture book. 5-10)