Math Fables : Lessons That Count

by Greg Tang, Illustrated By Heather Cahoon

Scholastic Press
March 2004

Ages 5 – 8 . Grades Kindergarten – 3

Library of Congress: 2002005360

Lexile measure: NP

DRA: 20

Guided Reading: L



Greg Tang has built his career as an author and math missionary on the power of creative problem solving. Now, through winsome "fables" about concepts that are relevant to the very youngest math learners -- sharing, teamwork, etc. -- Greg encourages kids to see the basics of addition and subtraction in entirely new ways. Fresh, fun, and most of all, inspiring, MATH FABLES is perfect for launching young readers on the road to math success!
Greg Tang

Greg Tang was tutoring math in his daughter's class when he noticed something interesting about the dominoes they were using. Each white dot had a pencil mark on it, which meant the children had been counting them one at a time. Mr. Tang taught them to look for patterns instead, and to add and subtract groups of dots in order to calculate the dominoes' value quickly. From there, he developed a new method of teaching arithmetic in a visual and spontaneous way. His method teaches both computational and problem-solving skills, and is so fun and challenging that children forget they are learning math! He believes that all kids are capable of doing well in math, and he has a mission to make math a natural part of every child's life. He has successfully taught his method to children from ages five to ten.

Grapes of Math and Math for All Seasons are part of a series of books that will help children gain the range of skills needed for higher math. His books challenge and encourage children to use creativity and common sense to solve problems, rather than formulas and memorization.

Greg Tang has an impressive mathematics background. He earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in economics from Harvard, and he also holds an M.A. degree in Math Education from New York University. He has applied his problem-solving methods in building successful companies and products in a variety of industries. Greg Tang currently lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his family.


  • School Library Journal
    (March 1, 2004; 0-439-45399-2)

    PreS-Gr 1-Complete with catchy titles such as "Trying Times," "Midnight Snack," and "Gone with the Wind," each brief fable told in rhyme ends with a moral. Except for some suggested activities at the end, there are no math problems or puzzles to solve. Rather, the author strives to help readers learn how to see a number as a combination of smaller groups of numbers in order to lay "the foundation for place value" and as a "first step to building strong computational skills." The text and perky, computer-generated cartoons show youngsters that there are many different ways of putting numbers together. For example, in "Going Nuts," four squirrels frolic in autumn leaves until they realize they need provisions for winter. One begins to explore while three sit on a branch, frightened with worry. Next, "2 squirrels raced to gather nuts" while "the other 2- buried them in stashes underground." Finally, "all 4 slept very well that night,/no longer feeling scared./They learned it's wise to plan ahead/and always be prepared!" Cahoon keeps the different combinations together by enclosing them in ovals, visually emphasizing that although the groupings may look different, they still add up to four. Featuring words like "sultry," "wholeheartedly," and "procrastinate," the enriching vocabulary is an added bonus. A fine addition to math shelves.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

    Publishers Weekly
    (February 23, 2004; 0-439-45399-2)

    A number of spring picture books add to popular series. Continuing to make arithmetic fun, Math Fables by Greg Tang, illus. by Heather Cahoon, offers 10 rhymes about animals that teach a life lesson while demonstrating basic addition. For the number seven, "Gone with the Wind" traces the path of monarch butterflies to Mexico, using every possible combination of addends (5+2; 6+1; etc.): "Their journey would be very far,/ a thousand miles or more./ The monarchs flew both day and night/ in groups of 3 and 4." In addition, Tang extends readers' vocabulary ("albeit," "prudent," "sultry"). Cahoon's computer-generated illustrations once again bring personality and charm to the animals and settings. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

    (February 1, 2004; 0-439-45399-2)

    PreS-Gr. 1. As he did in Math Appeal BKL F 15 03, Tang introduces children to the wonders of grouping numbers. Each fable tells a rhyming story in a two- or four-page spread, with each setup more complex than the last. One of the first fables tells of two young birds. One bird takes wing and hits the ground, and the other one falls from the sky and nearly drowns. When the birds practice together, however, they both learn to fly. In another story, 10 beavers leave for work, regrouping and reorganizing their numbers all day. A final page offers ideas to help more accelerated learners combine groups of numbers in various ways. The bright, shiny artwork, executed on a computer, sometimes appears literally rough around the edges, but the target audience will like the illustrations' happy cartoon look. Like Tang's other books, this will engage children, who may not even realize they are learning. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist



Jacketed Hardcover / Smyth

ISBN: 9780439453998

40pp. | 9 x 10