This clever rhyming text explores an interesting addition problem. It was delightful to read aloud, the pictures are fun to look at, and the last page is deeply satisfying as you figure out what all those preparatory addition problems were about!

100 Snowmen by Jen Arena, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. Scholastic: 2013.


This is not your everyday counting book! No 1-2-3 or babyish illustrations here. Instead, Lola Schaefer attacks the idea of averages for middle grade readers. The mathematics are sophisticated but she keeps the text simple and clear. Brevity and consistency are the heart of the book. Every spread has a sentence in exactly the same format:

In one lifetime, this [animal] will [verb] [number] [item].

For example:

In one lifetime, this alpaca will grow 20 different fleeces.

The consistency of the text and the consistently increasing numbers provide all the structure this book needs.

Extensive back matter not only gives more detail about each featured animal but also walks the reader through the author’s calculations. Other sections explain mathematical averages and challenge the reader to solve math problems.

A great book for anyone who thinks he’s outgrown counting books!

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle Books: 2013.