Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale

Crash! Boom! A Maths Tale
Robie H. Harris and Chris Chatterton
Walker Books

Block play elephant style is pretty much the same as that of young children particularly when little Elephant has such a wonderful resource to use.

Kneeling on a carpeted floor our pachyderm starts stacking; his aim to build a tower the same height as he is (intention). How many more do I need he wonders (estimating) .

‘1 2 3 4’, he counts the precariously balanced blocks, then hurrah! – arms stretched out wide in celebration (self-expression and self-esteem).

Elephant stands beside the stacked blocks (comparing/measuring), but almost inevitably given the unstableness of his stack CRASH! BOOM! Disaster …

Elephant though is not one to give up so easily. “It has to be as tall as ME!” he reaffirms. (resilience and determination).
He stops and thinks about the placement of that first block …

before starting to build another tower, self-questioning as he goes until, 8 blocks high it’s “WHOOPEE!” Success! This time Elephant gives the tower a celebratory bottom bash sending his stack crashing.
He still isn’t finished though; it’s time to experiment with that very long block and those others he’s yet to play with … “What if” – imagining. (love that one)

until …

(testing hypotheses, problem-solving, spatial awareness, balance, concentration)

Harris introduces a multitude of maths concepts along with a host of other learning possibilities of block play.  Chatterton’s simple, uncluttered, but oh so telling, illustrations show not only Elephant’s learning but also his sheer joy in his experience.

Those, like myself who champion the activity – especially with the kind of equipment in Chris Chatterton’s photographic collages, will celebrate this book and want to show it to anybody who ever thought block play was mere messing around: they need to read it right away. It’s such a brilliant example of learning through play, made even better because the publishers let the story speak for itself.

After you share it with young humans (and any elephants that happen to be around), make sure you have a large set of wooden blocks available; they’re sure to be inspired.

Family Matters

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15 Things NOT to do with a Baby
Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Sibling jealousy (mixed with anticipation, love, anxiety) is a familiar scenario when a new sister or brother arrives in the family, though the topic is anything but new when it comes to picture books. Three that immediately come to mind are The New Small Person by Lauren Child, There’s Going to be a Baby – a collaboration between Helen Oxenbury and John Burningham and the Anholt’s Sophie and the New Baby .
Margaret McAllister takes a humorous approach to what can often be a mixture of strong feelings, presenting – rule-book style – a selection of Don’ts – a delicious mix of flights of fancy

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and some plausible situations.

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These are followed by a series of ‘Do’s culminating in an adorable

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all so beautifully depicted by new picture book illustrator, Holly Sterling whose work I first came across in Over the Hills and Far Away. Her illustrations herein exude both joie de vivre and a strong sense of love and affection. Who can resist smiling at such scenes as the baby planting, for instance?

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This is one loving family realistically portrayed, at a time of big change and emotional upheaval, with an endearing naturalness and modernity.

There’s a broader look at families in:

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Who’s In My Family?
Robie H. Harris and Nadine Bernard Westcott
Walker Books pbk
This is essentially an exploration of all manner of families through the speech bubble conversations of brother and sister Gus and Nellie, and a straightforward narrative information text. We join the siblings as they and their parents leave home and visit the zoo where they encounter and discuss a variety of familiies.

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’Some have two mummies. Some have two daddies.’ … ‘Some children live with their mummy part of the time and with their daddy part of the time.’
The whole tone of the book is positive, “FAMILIES LOVE BEING TOGETHER” … ‘But sometimes families have angry times. And sometimes families have unhappy times.
Illustrated in a suitably upbeat, digitally created style, this inclusive book is full of potential for discussion with under sevens,

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Alice Hemming and James Lent
Maverick Arts Publishing pbk
Subtitled ‘A Dad in a Box’, this is an offbeat look at one particular dad, Dylan and Daisy’s who, so they tell him is “not like normal dads,”. Their dad is an inventor and knows nothing about football (my kind of person perhaps?).
Dads don’t come in a box,” he tells them and goes on to prove his point in no uncertain terms by creating a robotic super dad complete with packaging.

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This invention speaks in rhyme and is eager to demonstrate his soccer prowess in the big match

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as well as cooking up a special dinner for football players.
By the end of a very unsatisfactory and exhausting day, Dylan and Daisy have come to an all-important realization about their own father and are more than happy when he makes a timely reappearance.

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Quirky illustrations and opportunities for joining in with the ‘robot speak’ add to the fun.

Use your local bookshop localbookshops_NameImage-2

Don’t forget February 14th ibgdposterlarge