A Dollar, A Penny, How Much and How Many? (Math Is Categorical)
By: Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by: Brian Gable
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2013
Let’s face it, some children just don’t care much for math, but when you have a series like Math is CATegorical, even the most reluctant student can become interested. Learning “the basics of bills and coins” doesn’t have to be difficult or end up as drudgery, especially when the CATegorical cats step up to the plate and introduce young readers to the subject. In the beginning of each book one of the cats stands in front of an easel pointing to the main lesson youngsters will be introduced to in the book. This time, of course, it’s “Money: the coins and bills people use to buy things.” A little bit of zany, Cleary’s inimitable verse, and the facts go a long way to helping introduce the topic.
Concepts such as the value of coins sometimes can be difficult, but when the CATs claim that “Pennies each are worth 1 cent. / A nickel is worth 5. / It takes 10 cents to make a dime. / A quarter’s 25” makes things seem much easier. The artwork is vibrant, colorful and the verse peppy and fun. When the cats head to the Dollar Daze, it’s quite easy to understand how many quarters, dimes, pennies, or a combination thereof make up a dollar. “Zack hands over 7 dimes, / 1 quarter, plus 5 pennies. / all these combinations prove / to be the same as Jenny’s.” Common bills from the one to the twenty and U.S. coins from the penny to the quarter are pictured and discussed.
This is a marvelous and somewhat zany introduction to the basics of money for the young reader. I’ve read several in this particular series and each one carries that fun stamp that children enjoy. The age range for this series ranges from such beginning mathematical concepts of pattern play to the more complex function of fractions. Hands-on lessons can begin as early as kindergarten with play money. The exciting artwork, zany cats and verse would make this one perfect for read and discuss during circle or storytime. Newly independent readers can tackle the text with assistance while confident readers should be able to work through the verse with little difficulty. This is one of eight in the series Math is CATegorical that you may wish to add to your list, especially if you have students who are having trouble with math concepts.
Quill says: If you have young students who are a bit math shy, Math is CATegorical is the perfect series to help coax them into loving math!