Children’s Literature Review: Bean Thirteen

When two bugs named Ralph and Flora pick beans for dinner, we are led into some fun with arithmetic and division. For when they divide the beans, the thirteenth is left over, even when Flora invites two friends to share. By the time they make five piles for three guests, there are three beans left over. But when they ask Rocco over, if they give him the three leftovers, he will have more than the others. How the puzzle is solved makes for an amusing ending to this perplexing division problem that kids can try out for themselves. McElligott uses pen-and-ink to create the buggy characters and digital manipulation to add gestures and intense colors. The result is a sequence of scenes showing the beans in their varying, but never eaten arrangements. Visual humor enhances the lesson about sharing along with a bit about sets. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz