Banks, Kate. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Max’s Math. (Max’s Word series.) Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. 2015. $17.99. 9780374348755. Ages 4-6. P8 Q7
Max’s Math is the fourth book in the Max’s Words series. While the previous books in the series focus on Max’s affinity for language and words, Max’s Math is a slight departure from the norm; the subjects are shapes and numbers. Max travels with his two ever-present brothers to Shapeville and Count Town where they help the inhabitants solve problems—is that a 6 or an inverted 9? The usual wordplay and rhyming dialogue is missing from this volume. Instead, we find clever shape combinations, twin Einsteinesque mayors, and a nearly foiled Count Town countdown. Despite the differences, a visual and conceptual consistency is maintained through Kulikov’s illustration. The pictures in Max’s Math are less painterly than those in Max’s Castle (volume 3); however, this can be attributed to the requisite right angles found in Shapeville. This book is most successful at encouraging problem solving through critical thinking, not necessarily through mathematics. Perhaps Max’s Math denotes an evolution for the series, and a fifth volume may lend more insight into what the future holds for Max and his brothers.
December 2015 review by Lillian Curanzy.