Zero the Hero

Zero the Hero

3.6 3
by Joan Holub, Tom Lichtenheld

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Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. That's what all the other numbers think of Zero. He doesn't add anything in addition. He's of no use in division. And don't even ask what he does in multiplication. (Hint: Poof!) But Zero knows he's worth a lot, and when the other numbers get into trouble, he swoops in to prove that his talents are innumerable.

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Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. That's what all the other numbers think of Zero. He doesn't add anything in addition. He's of no use in division. And don't even ask what he does in multiplication. (Hint: Poof!) But Zero knows he's worth a lot, and when the other numbers get into trouble, he swoops in to prove that his talents are innumerable.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This story about the concept of zero recalls both Lichtenheld’s recent E-mergency and Kathryn Otoshi’s Zero (2010). Like the former, it features walking, talking written characters (digits, in this case, rather than letters), accompanied by Lichtenheld’s snappy, cartoon-style art. And like the latter, it features a Zero who’s scorned by his fellow numbers and who worries that he “doesn’t count.” But Holub’s (Wagons Ho!) Zero, who dresses in a superhero cape, has an inner “belief in his wonderfulness” and awaits a chance to prove it. At this point, several involved exchanges about Zero’s arithmetic functions establish that Zero extinguishes anything he’s multiplied by (Zero times a rock equals Zero), but the discussions weigh the story down and don’t seem likely to enlighten math-o-phobes. Past the blackboard digressions, things pick up as Zero rescues the other numbers from an attack by toga-clad Roman numerals, scaring them off with his destructive multiplicative powers (“Run IV your life!” one yells). Despite the energetic artwork and some clever ideas, though, Zero’s story doesn’t quite add up. Ages 6–10. Agent: Eden Street Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Amy Rennert Agency. (Feb.)

…cartoon energy and amusing visual asides, this story does for numbers what Laurie Keller did for states…
Horn Book Magazine

Read this aloud to whet the new reader's appetite, but there is just so much to see that only a slow reading, with a magnifying glass in hand, will do.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Poor Zero, he is all set to become a superhero but the other numbers convince him that he is nothing. As the author explains, zero is no help with addition or subtraction, but you better watch out when any number multiplied by zero becomes zero or to make it perfectly clear—"poof" the number disappears. Made to feel useless and worthless, Zero goes his own way because he wants to be a superhero not a villain who multiplies his friends into nothing. Then the other numbers realize that they do need Zero—after all how can you make the number 10 without a zero. Soon they realize how much they miss their friend, and because they were so preoccupied they did not notice that they had been surrounded by Roman soldiers. The Roman numerals were now in charge. How could the Arabic numerals escape—it looked like it was going to be the end of all of them, but then Zero zoomed to the rescue—he demonstrated his power by threatening to unleash the power of nothing. The illustrations are full of humor including the asides and the math lesson from Holub is made quite palatable. Kids who do not understand numbers may not get it, but those who do will have a good laugh. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Zero believes in himself and thinks he's a superhero. But the other numbers look at him as a nothing and make fun of him. They overshadow and even misidentify him. They show him that in addition, subtraction, and division, they always "win" by being the answer to the math equation, but when Zero finds that he always prevails in multiplication, the other numbers become frightened and flee. He feels guilty for scaring them away and he disappears. The others start to miss him, and then they are captured by Roman numerals dressed as soldiers. Zero hears their calls for help and rescues them with his knowledge of multiplication. The numerals gladly welcome his return and hail him as the hero. Lichtenheld's expressive cartoon illustrations utilize ink, pastel, and colored pencils to give each number a clear identity and personality. The text is clearly written on each page, and the numbers always add their own comments or opinions in dialogue balloons. This tale not only reinforces mathematical principles, but also has a great message about friendship and personal feelings. It can be read aloud, alone, or performed as reader's theater.—Lia Carruthers, Roxbury Public Library, Succasunna, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
The counting numbers get their comeuppance in the havoc that breaks out after they fail to believe in Zero's heroic powers. Brimming with self-confidence, Zero sports a red cape and black mask. But looking and feeling like a hero do not help him when it comes to fitting in with one through nine. Left out and teased, he still stays positive, even though he is virtually useless at adding and subtracting, and goodness knows, division by zero is pointless. But the heretofore-unflappable Zero meets his match in multiplication. Questioning the qualities of a hero who multiplies "his friends into nothingness," Zero rolls away. It isn't long before the other numbers value (and miss) the important place he holds…even more so when they are captured by a cadre of Roman numerals. Luckily, Zero hears their cries and flies to the rescue, which finally earns him hero status with his friends. While the story would hold all on its own, the tongue-in-cheek humor combined with Lichtenheld's wonderfully personified cast of characters (complete with sassy speech bubbles and expressive faces) makes this a book kids will reach for again. A hero and some villains and good winning over evil (oh, and all that educational stuff, too), all wrapped in humor and tied with a comic bow--what could be better? (Picture book. 7-12)

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Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.24(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.40(d)
450L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

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Zero the Hero 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
littlekrissy More than 1 year ago
Great story. Helps with math facts and introduces kids to roman numerals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago