FICTION

Max's Math

illus. by Boris Kulikov. 40p. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374348755.
COPY ISBN
K-Gr 2—In the fourth story about Max and his two brothers, numbers and shapes take center stage instead of words. Max builds a car and tells his siblings he's off to look for problems, and soon all three are on their way to adventure. The boys prove to be quite helpful as they assist in rebuilding Shapetown after a storm and in locating the lost numbers required for a Count Town rocket launch. Kulikov's illustrations add much to the story and invite counting and simple problem solving while also demonstrating that shapes can be combined or divided to make other shapes. Max's car is pristine white, creating negative space, thus continuing the math theme, and the mayors of both towns resemble Albert Einstein and reflect the towns' names. Shapes and numbers are hidden throughout the brightly colored illustrations, offering seek-and-find games: on a cow, in the configuration of a road, a clockface. In order to get to sleep after his exciting day, Max counts sheep while lying under his patchwork quilt made up of various shapes. Young children will enjoy the familiar characters and the fact that the youngest of the three brothers is again their leader.—Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI
Max (Max's Words, etc.) and his older brothers drive to Shapeville and help the townspeople rebuild after a storm; in Count Town, the three hunt for the numbers needed for a rocket launch countdown. Banks's playful writing is clever and brisk, and math is everywhere in Kulikov's whimsical art. This is a book that inspires love for math.
Max and his lively imagination (Max's Words, etc.) are back for a fourth outing. This time around, Max hits the highway; as usual, his older brothers go along for the ride. What are Max's plans for their road trip? "To look for problems…Because it's fun." With a long scarf looped jauntily around his neck, Max takes the wheel and drives to Shapeville, where the boys help the townspeople rebuild after a storm. Later, in Count Town, the three hunt for the numbers needed for a rocket launch countdown. Banks's writing is clever and playful and brisk, and her story is an absolute standout from other math fare. All too often, math content in books for children feels contrived or tacked on, or it smacks of reconstituted textbook material -- and didacticism reigns. Here, Banks's characters experience math more organically; the boys play with numbers and shapes -- encouraging readers to do likewise (although some may be confused that a counting-sheep art sequence begins with zero). In Kulikov's whimsical illustrations, math is everywhere: shapes and numerals adorn cows' hides; the countryside is graph paper; a traffic cop and the mayors of Shapeville and Count Town are all Albert Einstein doppelgängers. This is a book that inspires love for math. tanya d. auger

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