The News Tribune: Bean Thirteen

From the catchy, rhyming title to the bright, playful artwork, “Bean Thirteen” by Matthew McElligott is a delightful romp that hides a little division lesson in with the fun.

Ralph and Flora, two grasshopperish insects, go out on a warm summer night to pick beans for dinner. After counting 12 beans in the wheelbarrow, Ralph frantically tries to stop Flora from picking one more.

Too late. Ralph and Flora head home with 13 beans and spend the rest of the story trying to figure out how to divide them so that no one is stuck with the unlucky bean. If it’s just the two of them and each gets six, then who gets Bean Thirteen? So they invite a friend.

They are amazed when Bean Thirteen is still left over. A fourth friend? A fifth? It gets funnier and more complicated, until an accidental yet brilliant, solution presents itself. The beans spill, and the diners take only how many beans they want to eat. There are no beans left over.

Only one problem: After the guests leave, Ralph and Flora puzzle over who ate Bean Thirteen.

Who indeed?