Wednesday, November 07, 2007


or fear of Bean Thirteen. Matthew McEllicott has written a fun-filled mathematical tale, something I thought couldn't be created. But then, I used to have nightmares with numbers chasing me and ended up with a C on my junior year Regents exam in math, much to the chagrin of my father who was head of my high school's math department. I am philosophically and artistically opposed to didactic stories that are created for the sole purpose of explaining mathematical concepts within the framework of what can be only loosely termed a story. Until now, the best exception I knew was The Doorbell Rang, where cookies must be continually redistributed to satisfy a growing audience. Bean Thirteen ups the ante by providing a appropriately healthier alternative. Two pop-eyed bugs, Flora and Ralph, are picking beans for dinner. Despite Ralph's warnings, Flora insists on picking one more--bean thirteen. Back home, they cannot divide the beans into 2 equal piles. Gracious Flora offers the odd bean to Ralph who exclaims that, "I'm not eating it and you can't make me!" Because, of course, thirteen is bad luck. Flora the peacemaker starts inviting friends over for dinner to help solve the dilemma. Without spelling it out or mucking up the illustrations with equations, the reader discovers that 13 simply cannot be divided evenly. Finally, in a tizzy, Ralph spills the beans which amazingly leads to a satisfying ending for all. Of course, the mystery does remain: Who ate bean thirteen?

1 comment:

Rebecca said...


I am writing on behalf of G. P. Putnam’s Sons because we occasionally send out advance copies of books we are particularly excited about and we would love to have your contact information.

If possible, please reply via email to

Thank you so much,