Bean Thirteen

Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligott.

Even though Ralph tells her not to pick the unlucky thirteenth bean, Flora goes ahead and picks it.  She figures that they can simply divide the thirteen beans between them and not have thirteen any more.  But math is not quite that simple, and they are forced to divide again and again until they finally reach a solution that doesn’t divide evenly, but solves the problem.

The glory of this book is in its use of math as a real part of the storyline.  Add to that the humor of the text and you have one of those rare math books that can be enjoyed by an audience!  Even better, the vibrant illustrations feature luscious and bulging beans and pop-eyed insects.  The entire book is friendly, fun and filled with math. 

Recommended as a read-aloud for math classes in kindergarten and first grade, this could also be used in other classes or story times because the story is so good all on its own.  Be prepared to have some items around for children to practice dividing!

The Top Job

The Top Job by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, illustrated by Robert Neubecker.

It’s career day at school and one little girl hears about all of the amazing and fantastic jobs her classmates’ parents have.  When she stands up to tell about her father’s job and says he changes lightbulbs, the whole class mocks her.  But she keep right on telling her story about how her father took her with him one day.  She details the equipment he needs, and then readers get to travel to the top of the Empire State Building where her father changes the light way, way up on the tower at the tip of the building.  By the end of the story both the audience in the book and any reader will be cheering for her father and this book.

The illustrations by Neubecker are wonderfully detailed with deep colors and a real sense of action and space.  Wonderfully thick-lined and friendly, they add so much to this book.  Kimmel’s words have little humorous touches and a very childlike quality that reads well as the words of a child.  There is a distinct voice to the narrator of the story, which I really love.  She is self-assured and poised, a nice strong female voice.

The text is the perfect length for young elementary children, ages 5-8.  This would work well as a read aloud in a classroom where you are going to discuss careers.