Review of Counting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math Poems

Counting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math PoemsCounting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math Poems
by Betsy Franco; illus. by Priscilla Tey
Primary, Intermediate    Candlewick    40 pp.    g
10/22    978-1-5362-0116-1    $18.99

Silly humor and punchy payoffs abound in Franco’s (Mathematickles!, rev. 7/03) latest math-themed poetry collection. Take, for example, “Mom Time,” in which “Hold on a minute, hon” equates to waiting far longer than sixty seconds, which leads to the ­conclusion: “The next time Mom says, ‘Clean your room. / Right now! Your floor’s a wreck!’ / I’ll answer, ‘Sure. No problem, Mom. / I’ll do it in a sec.’” That dash of cheeky ’tude is spot-on for the audience, and better yet, they’ll never feel like they’re stuck staring at a dull textbook. That’s thanks, in part, to Tey’s whimsical gouache scenes, a mix of everyday kids and unusual creature-contraption hybrids. Added to that are the child-friendly topics, such as pet mice–­ownership gone awry (exponential growth!) and the “exceedingly cruel” unfairness of just three months of summer vacation. Then there’s the math content: yes, standard fare like fractions and solid shapes make appearances, but so do multiplying by sevens and number palindromes. Franco ends with “Math Makes Me Feel Safe,” a warm-hearted finale that counters mathphobia by centering math’s connection to and meaning in daily life: “It’s knowing when night falls / and darkens my bedroom, / my pup sleeps just two feet from me. // That watching stars flicker / in the velvety sky / is my glimpse of infinity!”

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Tanya D. Auger

Tanya D. Auger
Tanya D. Auger is a former middle school teacher with a master’s degree in learning and teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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