Tag Archives: Counting

PPBF: What in the World? Numbers in Nature

I chose today’s Perfect Picture Book in honor of two women: my mother-in-law and my eldest child.

A nature-loving virologist in an era of few female scientists, my mother-in-law would have turned 100 today. Tragically, she died when our first child was an infant. All of her grandchildren know only “of her.” While none has become a scientist, all have inherited her strong spirit, they are “interested and interesting”, and all love nature.

We moved to England when our elder daughter was entering second grade. She did well in school for the first few years, but struggled in Mathematics during fifth grade. Even though we had practiced the multiplication tables every morning while driving to school, she just didn’t seem to “get it” and started falling behind as algebra loomed. Working with her teacher, we discovered the reason: an important building block to understanding multiplication – sets, was taught in first grade in England and in second in our daughter’s US school. She missed that unit! We quickly remedied the problem using her baby brother’s Duplos, and thankfully, she mastered the concept and caught up to her class. I wish today’s Perfect Picture Book, What in the World? Numbers in Nature, had existed then.

 

9781481400602_p0_v1_s192x300Title: What in the World? Numbers in Nature

Written By: Nancy Raines Day

Illustrated By: Kurt Cyrus

Publisher/date: Beach Lane Books, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Nature, counting, sets.

Opening: “What in the world comes one by one? A nose. A mouth. The moon. The sun.”

Brief Synopsis: This rhyming counting book invites nature exploration, from the single nose, mouth, moon and sun to the “vast amount” of stars in the sky.

Links to Resources:

  • In an author’s note, Nancy Raines Day explains the concept of numerical sets as groups of “similar things that occur together” and invites readers and listeners to “look for a numerical set in the world around you.”
  • Think of other types of sets and go on a scavenger hunt around the house or garden. Look for objects of a certain color, shape, size or even utility (e.g., things we use to cook or to create art).
  • Build sets with Legos, empty boxes or even pantry items.

Why I Like this Book: With the repeated question of “what in the world…”, Nancy Raines Day invites readers and listeners to see and savour nature, to bring order to our chaotic world. This book is a wonderful introduction to the important scientific habit of observation and to the mathematics concept of sets, the precursor to understanding multiplication. The colourful illustrations include other examples of sets that readers and listeners can find together. And spoiler alert: if you are wondering “what in the world” of nature has nine, in an endnote, Ms. Day confesses it took her two years to find the perfect example – the Stickleback Fish. Fun to say & well worth a Google!

 

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Two White Rabbits

4cd78f1910As those of you who have read this book already will have guessed, and those who read on will find out, I didn’t choose to review Two White Rabbits today to prolong the Easter festivities (spoiler alert: this review does not contain chocolate) nor because I mistakenly think Easter is in April this year. The two white rabbits have nothing to do with this or any other holiday, although I did choose to publish this review on the eve of International Children’s Book Day. Instead, these rabbits have everything to do with those seeking a life in which celebrations are possible.

 

9781554987412_p0_v1_s192x300Title: Two White Rabbits

Written By: Jairo Buitrago

Illustrated By: Rafael Yockteng

Publisher/date: Groundwood Books, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-7 (per the publisher)

Themes/Topics: Migration, refugees, counting, journey

Opening: “When we travel, I count what I see. Five cows, four hens and one chucho, as my dad calls them.”

Brief Synopsis: Like the two white rabbits of the title, a young girl and her father journey together trying to find a way to, and across, a border.

Links to Resources: The unnamed narrator counts what she sees as she travels. Young listeners can also count what they see, either in the illustrations, in a room, house or garden, or during a journey. The narrator also counts clouds and finds shapes there, another possible activity for a young listener.

As I mentioned in my review of Mama’s Nightingale, there are a few teacher and classroom resources available online to explore immigration: Scholastic’s Immigration Stories: Yesterday and Today, focuses primarily on the Ellis Island experience, but includes oral histories, including child immigrants from more recent eras; TeachersFirst provides fiction lists by topic by age, including immigration–themed picture books.

Groundwood Books made a donation to IBBY to mark the publication of Two White Rabbits. To find out more about this not-for-profit organization that brings books and children together, click here. For a selection of other picture books exploring the theme of Latin American migration, click here.

Finally, for those looking to celebrate International Children’s Book Day, find ideas at Busyteacher.org, or read something by, or about,  Hans Christian Andersen, whose birthday was 2 April 1805.

Why I Like this Book: “Haunting” and “understated” are two words that run through online reviews. I would agree. We never quite know where the young narrator and her father come from, to where they journey, nor even the reason for the journey. We do know they are alone, except for a stuffed rabbit, the coyote (chucho) that joins them early in the story and the two white rabbits, a gift from an unnamed boy. The girl also alludes to the difficulty of the journey, “’Where are we going?’ I ask sometimes, but no one answers.”

Much of the reality of the situation is revealed through the illustrations: a tent city along railroad tracks; people riding atop the trains; soldiers; a toy “train” with soldiers and riders atop the carriages; the two rabbits heading towards a fence – will they be able to find a way through?

The plight of migrants is a topic that many adults don’t understand let alone are able to explain to young children. This is a timely book that could help spur discussion on many levels.

 

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: One Family

I learned of this book last fall, just as we were heading into that prime family time: the holidays. I looked in the library, couldn’t find it there (yet), but I luckily managed to find it at a favorite indie bookstore while (theoretically) shopping for holiday gifts. I’m so happy I did, as this is a book that will be at the front of our family bookshelves for generations to come.

9780374300036_p0_v1_s118x184Title: One Family

Written By: George Shannon

Illustrated By: Blanca Gómez

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-6

Themes/Topics: Family; Counting; Diversity; Inclusivity; Community

Opening: “One is one. One lamp. One clock. One book to share.”

Brief Synopsis: In this richly-illustrated counting book, one stretches to ten, as collective nouns contain increasing numbers of items and the family illustrated in each two-page spread increases in number until, finally, we return to one world, one earth, one family, in which we all are included.

Links to Resources: Find other collective nouns and look to see whether all items in each group are the same or different; draw a picture of your family; make a family tree (note: this could include pictures of family members and ancestors, or could creatively show each family member’s character).

Why I Like this Book: The sparse, poetic language and rich illustrations make this a beautiful book. The diversity of families and settings and inclusivity add to its appeal. And the illustrated portraits on the inside covers create a story unto themselves. This truly is “one book to share” with children and grandchildren.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book List. Check out the other great picture books featured there!