As Maggie, Nathan, Yoshi, and Scott head to school on the first day of the new school year, their friend Toby comments on how weird they look. The stage for the story is set as the kids explain that they are "cool." They are preparing for 100 days of cool and will, from now until the end of the book, think of ways to make a statement to this effect in a counting that will last for months on end. Their teacher, Mrs. Lopez, rises to the challenge by saying she will host a party on the 100th day. And so as the boys and girls wear cool socks, decorate their bikes, and paste sparkles on their faces, they also count up the days. To help the reader along, a number line appears at the top of every other pair of pages, and various numbers are posted here. In addition, Toby makes ongoing comments, which are portrayed in a cartoon bubble. For instance, he remarks (as if to the reader) that there are only 98 days to go. Later he says that the students are one tenth of the way there. These remarks are used sparingly, and it's not possible to grasp too many greater truths by reading them. However, the end matter contains a list of activities for adults and kids. These seem most appropriate for adults teaching kids, and they may come in handy for a classroom teacher. As part of a series, this selection is called a Level 2 "MathStart" book. The illustrator has done a fine job of injecting a sense of urgency and amusement into the story, and it is a delight to look at the beginning and ending spreads, which are awash in colorful numbers. MathStart: Numbers 1100. 2004, HarperCollins, and Ages 4 to 8.
Susan Schott Karr
K-Gr 2-Four friends arrive at school on opening day wearing the jazziest of outfits, having heard that their new teacher intends to celebrate "100 days of cool." Although Mrs. Lopez really meant to mark "100 days of school," she challenges the students to continue for an additional 99 days, and the foursome collaborates to generate ideas for lots of silly costumes, playful pranks, and a more serious yet equally "cool" community service project. Despite their classmate Toby's doubts, the friends come up with a daily surprise and a means of marking the way to 100 and the promised party. This simple story focuses on the single concept of counting to 100. A number line divided by tens appears at the top of most pages, and the cheerful illustrations reflect students of all backgrounds and physical abilities. Arbitrary numbers such as 8, 17, and 41 are given equal fanfare with typical number intervals like 5, 10, and 25. While the book offers reliable reinforcement for one-by-one counters, it won't dazzle children who are ready to investigate numbers in groups. Trudy Harris's 100 Days of School (Millbrook, 1999) and Elinor Pinczes's perpetually cool One Hundred Hungry Ants (Houghton, 1993) are more imaginative choices. An additional purchase.-Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Murphy's latest entry in his popular MathStart series of easy-to-read math concept stories focuses on the 100th day of school celebration often observed in elementary school classrooms. At the beginning of the school year a group of five children at first think the idea is 100 days of cool (rather than school), so they arrive for the first day in wild costumes and funny glasses. They rather like their misconception and the resulting esprit de corps, so they resolve to continue their pursuit of cool by sporting a different distinguishing trait each day. They try wearing special clothing, dying their hair, walking backward, decorating their bikes, and volunteering as a group, leading up to a celebratory party on day 100. A number line at the top of each spread tracks the progression of days toward 100, with additional conceptual points about fractions inserted in speech-balloon comments. The cool/school word play wears thin quickly, and the efforts of the group aren't particularly novel or funny. Bendall-Brunello does his best with watercolor-and-pencil illustrations that attempt to make the multi-ethnic group of kids lively and peppy, but this effort remains lukewarm. (author's note) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-8)