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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Max's Math, written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Farrar Straus Giroux, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2015. $19.99 ages 6 and up

"Max started the car.
"Where are you going?"
asked Max's brother Ben.
"To look for problems,"
said Max. "Why would
anyone go looking for
problems?" asked Karl,
Max's other brother.
"Because it's fun," said
Max. "Can we come?"
asked Karl."

I do hope that you have met Max and his brothers in past books. This is the fourth in a series that introduces young children to various concepts. In this one, the focus turns to numbers. Max is intrigued by them, finding them everywhere he looks.

He's building a car and needs two more wheels to make it run. Once up and operational, Max is off in search of problems. His brothers want to tag along. Cruising down the road all three find numbers at every turn. Leaving the highway in hopes of discovering whether the number they find on the side of the road is a 6 or a 9, they come to a crosswords. They let the traffic policeman know that they are on the lookout for problems, and he offers two destinations ... Shapeville or Count Town. Both are certain to satisfy them.

Shapeville is a mess. A storm has blown away all of the squares. Max has a solution. That solution leads to a smidgen of trouble, which Max can easily fix. Once again, he uses his knowledge of math and shapes to get he and his brothers back on the ground. Their crash landing leads to a sorting problem which is soon solved. Then, it's on to Count Town for a rocket launch. Everyone is going!

When they get there, some numbers are missing, including zero. Without it, they are in big trouble at the launch site.

The pace is quick, and the textured bold colors of Boris Kulikov's compelling artwork offer much for young readers to discover as the pages are turned. What a fantastic world he has created to accompany Ms. Banks' strong storytelling. Look, and then look again; you are sure to find something new each time.

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