cover image This Plus That: Life's Little Equations

This Plus That: Life's Little Equations

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. by Jen Corace. Harper, $14.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-172655-2

Rosenthal continues her run of inspired ideas with another collaboration with Corace (Little Pea). Here, in an exercise calculated to delight, she ditches the boring numbers in math equations for words. Two pigtailed girls squabble, then reason with each other. The outcome is a simple sum: "yes + no = maybe." The same two girls gossip through a tin-can telephone: "laughter + keeping secrets + sharing = best friend." Witty observations%E2%80%94"anything + sprinkles = better"%E2%80%94alternate with improving messages as well as nods to the seasons, arts, and kid-friendly activities. "Mumbling + toe staring %E2%89%A0 polite" accompanies the awkward introduction of one of the pigtailed girls to the other's mother; on the next page, with "handshake + 'how are you' = polite," the girl does better. Corace's stylized pen and ink vignettes show a world that's safe and secure; the same family members appear throughout ("tall + coffee = grown-up"), and the activities give evidence of cherished routines ("cozy + smell of pancakes %E2%80%93 alarm clock = weekend"). It's the kind of math that children won't have any trouble comprehending. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (May)