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The Great Divide
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About the Author

Dayle Ann Dodds is a former elementary school teacher with a degree in early childhood development. As she does in THE GREAT DIVIDE, Dayle Ann Dodds often writes in rhyme because "it is so natural to kids' ears. Rhyme, rhythm, and pattern help kids remember small revelations in entertaining stories," she says. Embedded in the exciting contest of THE GREAT DIVIDE, readers will find grouping, adding, subtracting, and multiplying, and discover how they form the foundation of division. Dayle Ann Dodds lives in Palo Alto, California.

Tracy Mitchell was born in Boston but grew up in New Orleans, a city whose influence is evident in her art style. THE GREAT DIVIDE is Tracy Mitchell's first picture book, and she says that working with such a large number of characters was just one of the many challenges she faced in creating her paintings for the book. "Dividing the racers into crazy groups, like clowns, pirates, and dancers, definitely helped," she says. Tracy Mitchell lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Reviews

In this crafty story of a cross-country race called "The Great Divide," numerical division accounts for the narrowing of the field. Eighty costumed competitors (in 10 groups of eight) begin the event on bicycles, but only half of them ford a rocky red canyon to continue: "On with the race./ Head for a boat!/ Forty racers now have to float!" These 40 (now 10 groups of four) climb aboard two big rowboats, and a whirlpool diminishes their number by half again. Dodds (Sing, Sophie!) continues reducing the group to 10 and to five, at which point "one runner stops with a rock in her shoe," enabling the final four to grab tandem bikes. The author demonstrates rather than describes the math, and her terse rhymes reinforce the racers' sense of urgency. Meanwhile Mitchell's individualized portraits of the athletes raise the book's quotient of pleasure. The illustrator, making a notable picture-book debut, carefully includes the dwindling number of eight clowns, eight cowhands, eight flappers, eight pirates and so on in her well-organized acrylic paintings; aspiring number crunchers can count the participants with ease. Among the top contenders, likable characters emerge: a jailbird wears a determined grin, a grandmotherly lady rides a galloping horse and a firefighter sticks out her tongue in exhaustion. All lessons should be this gratifying. Ages 5-10. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 1-4-This rhyming tale of a great race demonstrates the basic principle of division. Eighty contestants start out on bikes; they come to a fork in the path and half blunder left, where their tires pop. The other 40 keep going by boat, until they reach a whirlpool where half of them are again knocked out of the race. This continues until only five contestants are left, and Dodds sneaks past this tricky problem by having one contestant stop with a rock in her shoe while the other four move on, only to be thwarted. In a surprise ending, the fifth contestant sneaks back in to win the race. Though the plot is minimal, the story does an effective job of getting the concept across in a fun way. The illustrations, done in acrylics over modeling paste, are bold enough to keep pace with the action. A variety of faces and costumes appear among the contestants, from old ladies to clowns to cowboys and sailors. Elinor Pinczes's One Hundred Hungry Ants (Houghton, 1993) offers a similar concept in a more engaging story, but the pictures here are certainly appealing. With the current demand for math-related picture books, this is a natural addition for libraries.-Kathleen M. Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, Eldersburg, MD Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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