Crash! Boom!: A Math Tale (Robie H. Harris)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Crash! Boom!: A Math Tale, written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Chris Chatterton, a sweet story of a young elephant learning to build a block tower.

A little elephant plays with a set of blocks, stacking them to form a tower. He hopes to make the tower as tall as he is, and after some careful balancing of four blocks on their ends, he does – until the unstable tower collapses with a “Crash! Boom!”. The little elephant cries a few tears, but then starts again, finding that the blocks are more stable on their wider side, but it will take twice as many to achieve the same height. Once again, the elephant builds the tower to his liking, this time enjoying an intentional “crash! boom!” when he’s done. But what other combinations of blocks can make the same height? Time to experiment and see!

Adorable. Even without the math elements, the precious elephant and his exuberant block-building are a charming story about trying again when your initial attempt fails. The elephant’s expressive face and body, interacting with real-life photos of wooden blocks and containers, was absolutely darling and won JJ over from the first page. The added bonus is the subtle inclusion of basic math principles like counting and geometry, kept simple enough that beginners can follow along and build a foundation for future math concepts. The length was great, and JJ loved it. A delightful little story that encourages experimentation, perseverance, and play, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers?: The Story Of Ada Lovelace (Tanya Lee Stone)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Who Says Women Can’t Be Computer Programmers?: The Story Of Ada Lovelace, written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, a biography of the visionary mathematician.

Ada was born into a troubled home – her father, the famous poet Lord Byron, was known for his terrible behavior, so her mother left him when Ada was only a month old. Hoping to deter Ada from her father’s “madness”, Lady Byron encouraged rigorous studies, especially in mathematics. Ada had a passion for math and a scientific mind, but also a poetic soul, yet both were considered unsuitable at the time for a lady. Fortunately, Ada made a true friend in inventor and engineer Charles Babbage; both were creative thinkers, and loved bouncing ideas back and forth in the “poetical sciences”. Babbage had devised the “Analytical Engine”, a machine that could calculate impossibly large numbers, and was trying to raise money for it. Ada wanted to help, and Charles suggested that she write notes on a paper about his machine. She did, but her understanding of the science and math behind it far exceeded what even Babbage had thought it capable of. She posited that the machine could do anything they were able to tell it to do, and wrote an algorithm that became the first published for a computer – making Ada the first-ever computer programmer.

Wonderfully educational. The story covers the important aspects of Ada’s life and scientific contributions, and the language is not dumbed down for kids. The swirly-twirly art is old school, but works beautifully here, capturing the way poetry and science combines in Ada’s mind; numbers seem to dance through the air around her. The length is best for slightly older bookworks, though JJ made it through fine, and we enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Baby University ABCs Series (Chris Ferrie)

Hello, friends! We have a special 3-for-1 review today, taking a look at three board books from the Baby University series by Chris Ferrie: ABCs of Science, ABCs of Physics, and ABCs of Mathematics.

On each page of this set of ABC STEM books for little ones, readers are introduced to a letter and a corresponding scientific concept, element, reaction, idea, particle, etc. Each page is then broken into three levels of information: for babies, the just the letter, concept and illustration; for toddlers, a short sentence describing the subject; for older children, a two- to three-sentence paragraph that describes the idea in more detail.

These were great! It’s a clever, highly-informative and very accessible way to teach scientific and mathematical principles and concepts to little bookworms AND their caregivers. I especially liked the idea of breaking each page into three levels of informational chunks – it gives the books a lot of mileage as children grow and can comprehend more advanced ideas, and works perfectly for this kind of complex subject matter. The illustrations are a little plain, and there’s a lot of white space for this kind of book – I might have liked to see more engaging and/or colorful illustrations that could grow with kids as well as the text did. For the most part, however, this is a wonderful way to encourage little scientists, mathematicians and engineers to learn about the building blocks of STEM. Baby Bookworm approved!

The Cookie Fiasco (Dan Santat)

Hello, everyone! Our book today is The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat, a fantastically fun story about division, of all things.

The cookies are ready! But wait… there are four friends, but only three cookies! How will the friends split their cookies equally, especially with a nervous hippopotamus who keeps breaking the cookies into smaller and smaller pieces! They had better figure it out soon, or all that will be left are the crumbs!

Dan Santat’s books are always a treat, and this one is no different! Besides cleverly sneaking in a lesson about division and fractions, the story is filled with silly, melodramatic dialogue that is a blast to read. Add in Santat’s gorgeous signature style of illustrations, and this is a wonderful book to share with little ones of all ages. Baby Bookworm approved!