Wednesday, March 21, 2007

review: Bean Thirteen

Guest review by Ben: I think this book is good, because I can eat the leftover bean.

Bean Thirteen written and illustrated by Matthew McElligott. Putnam, 2007 (978-0-399-24535-0) $15.99

(reviewed from galleys)

Ralph the bug tries to stop Flora from picking an unlucky thirteenth bean for dinner, but he's too late. Flora insists that Ralph is being silly... but is he? When the two bugs decide to invite friends over to share the beans, so they won't have to worry about bean thirteen, they find that no matter how they divide them, there's always a bean left over! When they divide the beans into five piles, there are three left over: "It's getting worse!" Ralph gasps. Luckily, when their bug friends arrive, each one finds just the right amount of beans to eat. And they'll never know who wound up eating bean thirteen... maybe even Ralph!

This is an enjoyably silly story; kids will appreciate the squabbling siblings and Ralph's increasing desperation, which ends in a six-legs-waving tantrum. Vivid illustrations use strongly contrasting colors and brightly colored and darkly outlined shapes. Mathematical concepts aren't specifically mentioned, aside from a little pun about the odd situation, but the story easily lends itself to discussions about dividing objects into groups, odd numbers, and prime numbers. (4-8)

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