The Bookbag: Bean Thirteen

Thirteen, it seemed was an unlucky number and after all the banter about whether or not Ralph was being silly about this, he explained. First they took the beans they’d collected and divided them into two piles – but there was one over. The obvious solution (after a little more light banter) was to invite a guest over. Ralph wondered if they were going to give April just the one bean, but Flora said they would divide the beans into three piles.

Well, of course you know exactly what’s going to happen, don’t you? More and more friends were invited but try as Ralph and Flora might they could never divide the beans up equally between themselves and their friends. It was left to Flora to come up with an ingenious solution to the problem. She put all the beans in the big bowl and told everyone to help themselves.

Oh, it’s a lovely little book, you know. It’s sums without anyone mentioning the word. It’s prime numbers, division and multiplication without anyone even suggesting that’s what you’re doing. In fact you might just read the book and think that it was a story about a couple of bugs who thought that thirteen might be an unlucky number. You could even just love the fact that there are bright colours and the book’s good to look at.

I’d like to see one of these books (at the very least) in every primary school library just because it shows that numbers have a practical application in a fun way and because it just might get children wondering about numbers. At home it might not stay on the favourites shelf indefinitely but I still think that you’ll think it money well spent.