Game Time!

Written by Stuart Murphy & Illustrated by Cynthia Jabar


NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)Standards: Communication, Measurement

Last year, the Falcons were the soccer league champs. Can the Huskies beat them this year? The big game is only seven days away—just one week. Then it’s only one day away—24 hours. Then it’s only an hour away—60 minutes. At first the Falcons come on strong, scoring during the first 15-minute quarter. Will the Huskies catch up by the half, 30 minutes into the game? It’s a nail-biter, right down to the last second! The relationships between the various units of time—seconds, minutes, hours, days, and weeks—and how clocks and calendars represent these units are important concepts for children to understand.


School Library Journal

Grade 2-3-In one week, two girls’ soccer teams will test their skills during the championship game. Told from the Huskies’s point of view, the story builds tension as the big day approaches. During the game, the Falcons appear to be winning but, with nine seconds to go, the Huskies score. Designed to teach time measurement, the book introduces weeks and hours. The match lends itself to an explanation of quarter hours, which coincide with the periods of play. The scoreboard, shown on almost every page, has a countdown while an analog clock on the refreshment stand gives the time of day. The action is fast paced, and the soft-colored, pencil-and-watercolor cartoons pack plenty of action. The book concludes with an excellent list of time-study activities. Pair this with Teddy Slater’s Just a Minute (Scholastic, 1996) to establish the feeling of time’s passage.
Lynda Ritterman, Atco Elementary School, NJ

The Sundae Scoop

Written by Stuart Murphy & Illustrated by Cynthia Jabar

FEATURED SKILL: Level 2, Combinations

NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)Standards: Algebra, Connections, Data Analysis

Winnie, the nice lady in charge of the cafeteria, has a stupendous idea for the school picnic: "Let's make sundaes!" Lauren, James, and Emily help out and are amazed by how many different kinds of sundaes you can make with just two ice-cream flavors, two sauces, and two types of toppings. But when supplies run low, the number of combinations changes. Determining how many different combinations can be made from given sets of items is an important first step in understanding probability.



More math that kids-and not a few adults-can relate to, from the master of math concepts. Here he tackles combinations via a story of kids making sundaes at a school picnic. First the kids discuss the number of ice creams, sauces, and toppings they will use, drawing a chart to illustrate the possibilities aptly rendered in the playful pastel, disheveled artwork that looks just like a sundae. Murphy plays the concept like a slide trombone: Up, up the number of potential combinations mount, and then, as the kids commence to dish out the goods at the picnic, the options start to drop down, down as the sprinkles tip over and the chocolate ice cream melts and the caramel gets spilled. The chill that the words "combinational analysis" send through the bones is chased away by the clarity of Murphy's diagramming, flow charts that show just how many different sundaes might be ordered. As always in the MathStart series, Murphy supplies a number of activity ideas that extend and embellish upon the concepts being introduced as well as a short bibliography. Be prepared to head for the freezer.

Used with permission from Kirkus Reviews.  All rights reserved.


The latest addition to the MathStart series presents the concept of combinations in a story about a group of children who host and ice cream booth at their school picnic. With two flavors of ice cream, two sauces, and two choices of toppings, the children are surprised that eight different sundaes are available. But when Lauren spills all the sprinkles, the group is down to four possibilities. Then James spills the caramel sauce, and only two sundae choices remain. Murphy easily folds the math concepts into a lively story that will capture young readers, and Jabar reinforces the lesson with colorful, whimsical drawings of delectable ice cream scoops. The book closes with follow-up activities that will be useful for parents and teachers who want to encourage children to create stories using this concept.  —Helen Rosenberg,Used with permission from Booklist.