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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Wing Wing Brothers Math Spectacular! Written and illustrated by Ethan Long. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son, 2012. $8.99 ages 5 and up

"Woody tosses four more
Now Wendell only has
three plates. Wilmer has
five plates.
Wendell will not wait.
Wendell now has eight
plates. Willy still has
five plates."

The circus, comic book characters and a story that looks just like a comic strip...what's not to like when you are introducing young readers to simple math concepts? In the first act, the Wing Wing Brothers (five wingy, wild-eyed ducks) set out to teach the ideas of greater than, less than and equal to. They are Willy, Wilmer, Walter, Woody and Wendell. In comparing numbers of spinning plates, we watch them as first they have an equal number. Then, plates are added and new signs are shown, and concepts explained. All seems to be moving right along. Ten plates each, all spinning spectacularly...until they aren't! Instead, they are all smashed to smithereens and no one has anything left. At least, it's the same number...ZERO!

Addition and subtraction are the focus of acts two and three. This time, it's pies and juggling. That's another cool trick, isn't it? Three pies take no effort. Five results in chaos for everyone but Willy who ends up with only one. The rest have pie in the face. Willy doesn't want to miss out on the fun. Soon there are no pies left.

And on they go...creating a stunning show and entertaining their audience with mathematical hi-jinks, all in the name of learning something new. Well, I have to admit that there is a lot of fun to be had, as well. Ethan Long creates great comedy while introducing new math problems for the Wing Wing Brothers on every page.

Who knew that math could be such fun? Could there possibly be more entertaining teachers than these guys? Preschoolers and early graders will be giggling, before attempting some of their own math tricks. Don't leave before the final act!

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