Review: How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti

how many jelly beans

How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti, illustrated by Yancey Labat

Released in April 2012.

I cannot count how many dismal number and math books I have read over the years.  I’m lucky enough to have a mathematical kid, but finding books that he would enjoy was painful.  Many math books are a lot more about concept than about being fun to read.  Well, not this one!  This one winningly mixes math with candy, so that even non-mathematical kids will give it a try.  Aiden and Emma are just like most siblings, they are trying to get more than each other.  So when Emma asks for 10 jelly beans, Aiden asks for 20!  And the number just keep climbing from there.  Soon, they are up to 500 jelly beans, which may be way too many to eat.  But how about 1000 or 5000 or 10,000 in a year?  The jelly beans get smaller and smaller until the final number of 1 million is reached only be an enormous fold-out page. 

This visual sweet treat will get children able to truly visualize what the difference between thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and a million are.  The art by Labat done in black and white with only the jelly beans for tantalizing color really works.  The focus is on the candy and the number.  Menotti nicely inserts division into the conversation too, when the children debate how many jelly beans they could eat in a year. 

I can see this over-sized book inspiring lots of counting, adding, dividing and multiplying in families, or it is also a very sweet book to share with your number-loving kid.  Appropriate for ages 5-7. 

An aside just for librarians, please don’t put this in the remoteness of the nonfiction section with your math books.  Let it enjoy being taken home as a yummy picture book with a jelly bean and math center.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

Review: North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson


North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Patrick Benson

This poetic look at the amazing Arctic starts with the deep winter and the few animals who survive there year round.  Then spring comes to the Arctic and the sun comes back along with some warmth.  Plants start to appear from under the snow.  Soon more animals will arrive.  The first to head out on their journey are the gray whales, that swim from Mexico to the Arctic Circle.  Birds head north too in flocks.  Herds of pregnant caribou journey north, followed closely by the gray wolves looking for weakness.  Walrus, narwhal, schools of fish, all of this life crowds the Arctic summer until the weather turns cold and brutal again, and once more they head back around the world.

Dowson’s words are poetry in this book.  Not only written in verse form, they also speak to the soul of the Arctic, the beauty of the place and the glory of the creatures who live there.  At the same time, the words are scientific and filled with information about the place and the animals.  It is an elegant combination of poem and fact.

Benson’s art is striking.  He created paintings that are both natural and accurate but also have a sense of artistry.  Much of the art is about the landscape, the place itself and the grand amount of space there.  The illustrations of bitter winter are cold and bleak with dim, gray light.  Then the reader turns the page and it is spring with its lemony light and sprigs of green.  The change is striking to the reader and beautifully captured.  There are moments like this throughout the book.

A striking mix of poetry, art and science, this book will speak to a range of different children looking to understand their world a little better.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Thomas Locker Dies


Thomas Locker, an author and children’s book illustrator, died on March 9th at the age of 74.  He began his career as a landscape painter in the 60s.  He didn’t start working on children’s books until the early 80s. 

Those familiar with his work will see the continued influence of his landscape painting in his books.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts that you might find interesting:

Bookshelf – Poetry – NYT – some great new poetry books for children –

Cassandra Clare To Write ‘The Dark Artifices,’ A Fantasy Series Set In Los Angeles #yalit

It’s all kidlit now, and that’s just fine – The Globe and Mail

My Hunger Name is Blight Nibbleton. I was killed in the 34th Hunger Games by crippling ennui:

hunger game names

‘Hunger Games’ Producer Nina Jacobson on the Journey from Page to Screen

Lauren Oliver on Romance, Blogging, “Delirium” & “Pandemonium” : The Childrens Book Review #yalit

Modern children’s books help families explore diversity

Parents too busy to read bedtime stories to their kids: Study – Lifestyle – DNA

Retweet of My love for Sophie Blackall’s work overfloweth after watching this video:

Pottermore finally vanquishes technical obstacles to open access |

Remembering ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ 50 years after it won the Newbery Medal – The Washington Post

Rightsholders Group to Charge Libraries for Reading Books to Kids

To Ensure a Bright Future, Your Teen Needs to be Reading – Scoop San Diego: Home & Family

Westerfeld’s Uglies continues in manga form: Shay’s Story – Boing Boing

What came before "The Hunger Games" – The Hunger Games –