After three pages, this story seemed so silly to me that I nearly put it down. Fortunately, my kids wanted to hear the rest. The king, it seems, has created so many royal task forces that he's lost count of how many commissioners he has: there's one for Flat Tires, one for Foul Balls, one for Chicken Pox, and even one for Things That Go Bump in the Night. The solution is, of course, to count them (this is where I wanted to quit). So the king, several of his advisors, and the little princess assemble in the throne room for the tally. The king quickly loses track and has to rely on the efforts of rest of the team. One advisor counted twenty-three groups of two and had one extra one; another advisor counted nine groups of five and had two extras; and the princess got four groups of ten plus seven left over. The king is confused-and angry. But with a bit of gentle prodding, the princess is able to convince her father that there are a lot of different ways to count to 47. The King's Commissioners is part of the "Marilyn Burns Brainy Day Books" series which does kids a tremendous service by making mathematics come alive. This book has nearly as much for adults as for the children being read to. In a special section for parents, teachers, and other adults, series editor Burns explains how children progress from counting things one at a time to counting in groups (by twos, fives, or tens). She suggests several creative ways teachers and parents can interest children in learning about math, and provides questions designed to encourage kids to talk about what they're learning.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-A confused king has appointed a commissioner to handle every problem in the kingdom from flat tires to chicken pox. Now he has no idea how many commissioners there are, and he orders his royal advisors to gather and count them as they walk through the door. The first advisor counts by twos, the second by fives, and the little princess by tens. Of course, they all arrive at the same answer. The king is utterly perplexed, but his daughter clears up the mystery and readers learn the value of multiplication. Guevara combines cartoon and primitive styles to create zany, exaggerated, brightly colored illustrations-the perfect complement to the silly story. The portrayal of the simpleminded king is especially amusing. The story is appropriate for whole-language units, home-schooling, or for anyone who wants to show the fun and useful role of math in everyday life. Ruby Dee's Two Ways to Count to Ten (Holt, 1990) and Kay Chorao's Number One Number Fun (Holiday, 1995) present math concepts for younger children in a story format.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI