cover image Usha and the Big Digger (Storytelling Math)

Usha and the Big Digger (Storytelling Math)

Amitha Jagannath Knight, illus. by Sandhya Prabhat. Charlesbridge, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62354-201-6

In this picture book debut by Knight—part of the Storytelling Math series—Usha, a brown-skinned girl who is obsessed with trucks, yearns to learn how to turn a cartwheel. When her attempts land her outside, supine next to her older sister Aarti, Aarti shows Usha the asterism known in the U.S. as the Big Dipper. But Usha, laying in a different orientation from Aarti, sees the Big Digger instead. And when cousin Gloria comes over the next night and the trio lies in a circle, Gloria sees the Big Kite, continuing a gently imparted lesson on geometric and spatial concepts, including orientation, perspective, and rotation. Knight maintains playful energy through an onomatopoeic refrain describing Usha’s failed cartwheels: “Flippety thump. Flippety thump—SPLAT!” Dynamic digital art by Prabhat, rendered in vibrant jewel tones, emphasizes Usha’s determination in mastering cartwheels, as well as relatable family dynamics in this endearing portrait of one Indian American family learning to embrace differing perspectives. Back matter includes an author’s note and an exploration of the math involved, with recommended activities. Ages 3–6. (Aug.)