Children's Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, November 1998
Page Two of Two

By Nancy Littlejohn

A Dozen Dozens by Harriet Ziefert, Illustrated by Chris Demarest

Viking (Math Easy to Read Level 2), Jan., 1998.
Hardcover, 28 pages.
ISBN: 0670877891.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


Cover of A Dozen Dozens
by Harriet Ziefert, Illustrated by Chris Demarest A Dozen Dozens is another fine example of an easy reader being entertaining and educational at the same time. Its amusing, colorful illustrations give visual cues on counting. Its rollicking rhyme keeps the young reader engaged. Since this is a math easy-to-read, part of a series that Viking is publishing, it also has the task of making math fun, which it does very well indeed. It alternates between counting a dozen and then half a dozen. It starts out with the question, "What is a dozen?" and proceeds to go from there. First, there are twelve fat piglets. Then six (half dozen) tulips and roses, which of course if the reader counts all together add up to a dozen. A dozen eggs are in the barn but six of them have cracks. On this page then, not only does the reader get to count up to six and then twelve but look for the cracked eggs. A few pages later, subtraction is introduced with a pizza with twelve slices. The father wants two slices, the mother wants three, the sister wants one and that leaves six (there's that half-dozen again) for the little boy. After the story is over, the end of the book has suggestions for family math fun. It asks if there are a dozen of various objects in the reader's house and encourages her to count to find out. Then it asks the reader to list a dozen different dinosaurs or bugs, birds or dogs. It also has a story starter and several other activities. This is a good interactive book. Although short, it packs in not only many math concepts, but can make a young reader feel successful at finishing a book because it is so brief. The activities at the end require no special gadgets and little time to accomplish. It's a great way to spend some moments with your child and maybe involve the rest of the family, too.

--Nancy Littlejohn


Zack's Alligator Goes to School Shirley Mozelle, Pictures by James Watts

HarperTrophy, September 1998.
Paperback, 63 pages.
Grades 1-3.
ISBN: 0064442489.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


Cover of Zack's Alligator Goes to School
by Shirley Mozelle Is there anything more exhilarating than finally learning how to read? While many of us probably remember the days of Dick and Jane and the constant repetition, today's young readers have a wealth of beginning books from which to choose which are really fun and funny to read. When my children were first learning to read, my main criteria for selecting an easy reader was whether I could stand to read it to them as well as have them read it to me? over and over again. Zack's Alligator Goes to School fits that criteria to a tee. Zack is a boy with an alligator key chain named Bridget. Bridget is one pretty amazing key chain so Zack decides to bring her to school for show-and-tell. Buster (a bully, of course) laughs at Zack for bringing a girl for show-and-tell. He has brought Negatron, the greatest robot in the world. Unfortunately, Negatron does not live up to Buster's boasts. When it's Zack's turn, he pulls out tiny Bridget, the alligator key chain from his pocket. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for the class, Buster tries to grab Bridget away from Zack knocking her into the aquarium. Did I mention that Bridget GROWS when she gets wet? Into a full size 'gator from the Glades? Ms. Pickles, the teacher, is a bit dismayed, but the children are delighted! Bridget can talk and sing! Suddenly, Negatron, Buster's robot, starts to work with a WHIRRRR! Bridget goes after the monster even after Zack tells her to stop. Chaos ensues. OF COURSE, even more chaos ensues to the great delight of Zack's class when Bridget tries out a skateboard, knocks over the ant farm and the radio, pops a dinosaur balloon, dances and plays basketball on Ms. Pickle's desk and generally trashes the classroom. All good things must come to an end, though, and Bridget starts to shrink all the way back to her key chain size. Just in time, too, because Mr. Turnip, the principal, arrives on the scene. When he wants to know about an alligator being in the classroom, they show him Bridget. He leaves in disgust when he sees what he thinks is ONLY a key chain. The kids pass Bridget around to tell her good-bye before handing her over to Zack. Bridget contentedly falls asleep in Zack's hand as he promises that he will water her again soon and tells her, "See you later, alligator." Bridget the 'gator makes this book special with her zany antics. It's imaginative and exciting. Kids love books about wacky things that can happen at school. It's a sure thing any young reader would pick this book to read for him/herself. You couldn't go wrong either by picking it for them. Enjoy -- but watch out for key chains!

--Nancy Littlejohn


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