The Great Divide: A Mathematical Marathon


"In this crafty story of a cross-country race, numerical division accounts for the narrowing of the field. . . . All lessons should be this gratifying." —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

"Bang!" goes the gun. The race is on.

Eighty racers explode from the starting gate, determined to win The Great Divide. They surge ahead, rushing toward—OH NO!—the wide hungry mouth of a grand canyon that claims half the racers. And this is only the beginning. More dangers lie ahead, waiting ...

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"In this crafty story of a cross-country race, numerical division accounts for the narrowing of the field. . . . All lessons should be this gratifying." —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

"Bang!" goes the gun. The race is on.

Eighty racers explode from the starting gate, determined to win The Great Divide. They surge ahead, rushing toward—OH NO!—the wide hungry mouth of a grand canyon that claims half the racers. And this is only the beginning. More dangers lie ahead, waiting to divide the group once, twice, three times, and more. Will there be anyone left to cross the finish line?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this crafty story of a cross-country race called "The Great Divide," numerical division accounts for the narrowing of the field. Eighty costumed competitors (in 10 groups of eight) begin the event on bicycles, but only half of them ford a rocky red canyon to continue: "On with the race./ Head for a boat!/ Forty racers now have to float!" These 40 (now 10 groups of four) climb aboard two big rowboats, and a whirlpool diminishes their number by half again. Dodds (Sing, Sophie!) continues reducing the group to 10 and to five, at which point "one runner stops with a rock in her shoe," enabling the final four to grab tandem bikes. The author demonstrates rather than describes the math, and her terse rhymes reinforce the racers' sense of urgency. Meanwhile Mitchell's individualized portraits of the athletes raise the book's quotient of pleasure. The illustrator, making a notable picture-book debut, carefully includes the dwindling number of eight clowns, eight cowhands, eight flappers, eight pirates and so on in her well-organized acrylic paintings; aspiring number crunchers can count the participants with ease. Among the top contenders, likable characters emerge: a jailbird wears a determined grin, a grandmotherly lady rides a galloping horse and a firefighter sticks out her tongue in exhaustion. All lessons should be this gratifying. Ages 5-10. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Carol Lynch
With the BANG of the starting gun and a cloud of dust, eighty competitors begin a wild race that will take them through a variety of challenges. From cycling a canyon to rowing through whirlpools, galloping on horseback to floating in balloons, and finally running on foot, the race claims many would-be victors at every turn (half, then half again, and so on). A last-minute twist results in one triumphant winner of The Great Divide. Detail-oriented readers will find themselves returning to earlier pages many times before getting all the way to the end of the text. Bright illustrations use texture to provide additional visual interest.
Library Journal
Gr 1-4-This rhyming tale of a great race demonstrates the basic principle of division. Eighty contestants start out on bikes; they come to a fork in the path and half blunder left, where their tires pop. The other 40 keep going by boat, until they reach a whirlpool where half of them are again knocked out of the race. This continues until only five contestants are left, and Dodds sneaks past this tricky problem by having one contestant stop with a rock in her shoe while the other four move on, only to be thwarted. In a surprise ending, the fifth contestant sneaks back in to win the race. Though the plot is minimal, the story does an effective job of getting the concept across in a fun way. The illustrations, done in acrylics over modeling paste, are bold enough to keep pace with the action. A variety of faces and costumes appear among the contestants, from old ladies to clowns to cowboys and sailors. Elinor Pinczes's One Hundred Hungry Ants (Houghton, 1993) offers a similar concept in a more engaging story, but the pictures here are certainly appealing. With the current demand for math-related picture books, this is a natural addition for libraries.-Kathleen M. Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, Eldersburg, MD Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763615925
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 1/6/2005
  • Edition description: Ages 5-10
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 190,924
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.70 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Dayle Ann Dodds is a former elementary school teacher with a degree in early childhood development. As she does in THE GREAT DIVIDE, Dayle Ann Dodds often writes in rhyme because "it is so natural to kids' ears. Rhyme, rhythm, and pattern help kids remember small revelations in entertaining stories," she says. Embedded in the exciting contest of THE GREAT DIVIDE, readers will find grouping, adding, subtracting, and multiplying, and discover how they form the foundation of division. Dayle Ann Dodds lives in Palo Alto, California.

Tracy Mitchell was born in Boston but grew up in New Orleans, a city whose influence is evident in her art style. THE GREAT DIVIDE is Tracy Mitchell's first picture book, and she says that working with such a large number of characters was just one of the many challenges she faced in creating her paintings for the book. "Dividing the racers into crazy groups, like clowns, pirates, and dancers, definitely helped," she says. Tracy Mitchell lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2008

    Great Intro to Division

    Read it to my 3rd grade daughter who was being introduced the concept of division at school and she picked the concept right up. She loved the story of the book and kept rereading it last night.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2011

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