cover image The King's Commissioners

The King's Commissioners

Aileen Friedman. Scholastic, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-48989-8

Guevara's (Chato's Kitchen, reviewed Feb. 2) zany, off-center paintings provide the chief point of interest in this Marilyn Burns Brainy Day book about a crew of numbskull number-crunchers. An addle-pated king has lost track of his various commissioners, what with separate functionaries in charge of Spilt Milk, Mismatched Socks, Wrong Turns, etc. So he and the Royal Advisors plan to convene the commissioners and count them. But the First Royal Advisor counts in groups of twos, the Second Royal Advisor counts by fives and the capable little Princess counts by tens, leaving the King more confused than ever. A long afterword to parents and teachers explains that the book aims ``to stimulate children to think about the place value structure of our number system.'' While the text certainly functions as an animated introduction to mathematics and the illustrations almost burst with comic moments, the story itself is a limp one. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)