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Saturday, August 4, 2018

CRASH! BOOM! A Math Tale, written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Chris Chatterton. Candlewick Press, Penguin Random House, 2018. $21.99 ages 2 and up

"Hmmmm ...



1 more.

Hey! I want it to be as
tall as ME!"

Who hasn't watched little ones building block towers, and seeing them fall? Often, to a child's great consternation and equally to great delight - depending on their disposition at the time. It is amazing to watch the concentration, the determination to get it right, and the prevailing attitude when the tower falls.

The little elephant here wants to match the pile of blocks to her own height. As a former kindergarten teacher who replaced workbooks with full sets of building blocks (to my principal's dismay at the time), I watched intently to see how each child handled the challenges inherent in block play. It was not only enlightening, but it affected and improved my ability to assess and report on growth and development.

Watching this little elephant brought back many memories. Robie Harris clearly captures for her readers a mirrored look at their own block play. After emptying the blocks from their container and spreading them out, the elephant takes one at a time, and constructs. The blocks are different shapes and sizes, wooden, and easy to handle. Thrilled to be successful, she celebrates. An errant touch and it all falls down - CRASH! BOOM!

Developmental math language is used to great success - more, up, tall, shorter, down, flat, wobbly, counting, even equal sizes. The first failure does not deter, nor does it thwart the imagination for other ways of building equal sized towers.

Chris Chatterton creates expressive collage artwork, using real wooden blocks. Employing plain backgrounds and expressive facial changes, he creates a warm and engaging mood to match the author's text. There is great joy here - and success! Be sure you have blocks at the ready for when the story is done!

No adults to offer advice. One small being trying, failing, and then trying again and again. This is learning through play at its best. Bravo!

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