cover image Math Attack!

Math Attack!

Joan Horton, , illus. by Kyrsten Brooker. . FSG/Kroupa, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34861-8

A hopelessly perplexed student sends her school and community into chaos when she's stumped by a simple multiplication question. Asked “what's seven times ten?” her brain “just exploded,” causing numerals to spew from the top of her head. “Everywhere, numbers were tumbling down—/ On the school yard and houses and streets of the town./ They halted the traffic; horns started blaring./ Dogs began barking and townsfolk stood staring.” The “girl-befuddled-by-math” stereotype is in full play, though it may be overlooked given Brooker's (Someday When My Cat Can Talk ) engaging mixed media collage (photographs of stocked shelves and fresh produce fill a scene in which renegade numbers wreak havoc in the supermarket). Horton's (Halloween Hoots and Howls ) narrative bounces along in fairly predictable rhymes until the girl's gray matter kicks in (“That's when I heard it—a strange whirring sound/ As gears in my head started spinning around”). Just when it looks like she's back on track, a new math problem stumps her all over again. Not an encouraging read for those intimidated by the subject, but the high-energy artwork will entertain. Ages 5–9. (Mar.)