Kid’s Lit: The Lion’s Share

The author of the charming Bean Thirteen returns with this book that features multiplication and division with such style that readers will have no idea they are enjoying a math book. Every year, the lion invites a group of animals to share dinner with him. This year, the ant has been invited. She arrives just on time and is alone for awhile until the others arrive: the beetle, frog, macaw, warthog, tortoise, gorilla, hippo and the elephant. At the table, all of the others showed horrible manners. Then a cake is given to the elephant and he is told to help himself. The elephant, not wanting to be too greedy, slices the cake in half and takes half for himself. After that, each animal does the same, until it reaches the ant and the piece is too small to cut in half again. So nothing is left for the lion. Trying to fix things, the ant offers to bake the lion a cake for the next day. Each animal doubles her offer, until the elephant is left at the end offering to bake 256 cakes by the next day. Things work out with mathematical precision and logically fall into place as the ant finishes the book victorious.

McElligott has created a book with a great tone and easy style. It has the feel of a folktale but many modern touches. His art is equally appropriate for a folktale but also for a modern story for children. It is a great look and feel for a picture book. McElligott has managed to make math fun, silly and delectable.

McElligott’s text is ideal for reading aloud. The animals are great fun to do with voices and the tiny ant makes a perfect protagonist, one easily related to by children. The illustrations will also work well for use with a group. Preschoolers may be young for the math, so save this one for first and second graders who will snap it up in one bite. Or maybe they will share half with a friend…[link]