The author of The Grapes of Math and Math for All Seasons continues his crusade to make math make sense by taking on the biggest of math bugbears: the multiplication tables!
Greg Tang's proven methods--giving kids tools rather than rules and more memorization--pay off once again, as he uses rhymes and commonsense tricks to walk through the multiplication tables from zero to 10. For example, if you know how to multiply by two ("Two is very fast and fun, quickly double and you're done. What's that you say, be more precise? Okay then, just add it twice!"), then fours ("... please just always double twice!") and eights ("... doubling three times works just great!") should be a cinch. Some of the rhymes are even as clever as Tang's tips: Over a panda pool game, he advises, "Nine is faster to compute if at first you overshoot. Here's a very clever tack, do 10 times and then subtract! What is 9 x 9? It's ten 9's minus 9.... What is 9 x 7? It's ten 7's minus 7."
Tang's text makes for a fun read-along, and illustrator Harry Briggs keeps things interesting with his computer-generated, animal-inspired spreads, with dancing chickens, ice-cream-flinging monkeys, and a fortunetelling cat. Kids won't feel left out of the action either: each section ends with a couple of challenges, and a key in the back spells out all the answers. (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes