The Sacramento Bee: The Lion’s Share

Manners and math dovetail in this smart picture book about a wild dinner party hosted by a lion.

It all begins with red ant receiving her invitation to the affair. She’s thrilled. She arrives on time, only to be appalled by the other guests’ manners. The green macaw in a prim hat and the gray gorilla in sunglasses are tardy. At dinner, the monocled elephant talks with his mouth full, and hippo chews with her mouth wide open. Worst of all, they’re greedy.

When it’s time for dessert, lion hands the cake to elephant and says, “Help yourself.” Elephant says he could eat it in one bite, “but that might seem greedy.”

So he cuts it in half, and passes half to hippo, who mutters, “What a pig.” Then she takes half. And so it goes. Each guest takes half. When the cake gets to ant, it’s a crumb. The animals snipe that ant doesn’t share as they did. Mortified, she promises a cake for the lion.

Not to be outdone, beetle offers to bake two cakes. Each animal in turn doubles the previous offers until elephant promises to bake 256 cakes.

McElligott illustrates his story of fractions and multiplication with humorous watercolors. Graphics make the math, but facial expressions take the cake.