Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Fractions in Disguise
Grades 1-3. Instead of baseball cards or action figures, George collects fractions (illustrated as thick round discs mounted, trophy-like, on pedestals). At an auction, the tuxedo-clad boy competes against three rivals, including the nefarious Dr. Brok. The bidding for a coveted 5/9 approaches one million dollars when the lights go out and the fraction disappears. So does Dr. Brok. Armed with a homemade gizmo for reducing fractions, George follows the scoundrel to his mansion, where the boy must find the treasured 5/9, cleverly hidden in plain sight. A playwright, Einhorn manages to keep up the dramatic tension between the intrepid hero and the sneering villain while slipping in bits of fraction-wrangling information along the way. Using a restrained palette, cartoonist Clark boosts the story’s comedy and its drama with his exaggerated portrayals of the characters and their actions. An appended page tells and shows how to reduce a fraction, an idea that even noncollectors may find useful. This amusing book could help lessen the all-too-common fear of fractions.