Reviews for One Grain of Rice : A Mathematical Folktale


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 March 1997
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 3^-6, younger for reading aloud. Demi's lively illustrations, shining with gold-leaf details, enrich this story of Rani, a clever young woman who uses her skill in mathematical thinking to outwit a self-indulgent raja and secure food for her starving people. When the raja wishes to reward Rani for a good deed, Rani asks for one grain of rice, with the amount to be doubled each day for 30 days. Demi's illustrations become increasingly rich as each day a different animal parades across vibrantly colored backgrounds to deliver rice. Children will be as surprised as the raja to see how quickly Rani's rice accumulates as the trick unfolds, and they'll be just as satisfied as Rani to see the selfish raja's rice supply diminish. The illustrations amplify the suspense and humor, until finally, on the last day, 256 mighty elephants march across a four-page foldout to deliver their bundles. Teachers are sure to appreciate the book's multiple uses within the curriculum (Demi includes a table showing the math involved), and everyone will enjoy the triumph of good over evil achieved by a clever trick and math. ((Reviewed March 1, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
When the raja, who is hoarding all the rice, offers clever Rani a reward for honesty, she teaches him a lesson by asking for rice--one grain on the first day and double the previous day's amount on each of twenty-nine succeeding days. By the end of this amusing Indian tale, two fold-out pages, complete with gold paint, are required to depict the elephants delivering Rani's rice. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 January #4
A traditional tale of India, as well as miniatures produced in that country in the 16th and 17th centuries, inspired this visually striking book. Set off by simple red and gold frames, Demi's (Buddha; Buddha Stories, see p. 108) atmospheric, authentic-looking illustrations some featuring shiny gold dominate these graceful pages. Figures sometimes dart beyond the frames, too, adding a Western mobility and quickening the visual appeal. Revolving around a raja who hoards his people's supply of rice during a famine, the tale teaches a lesson about selfishness as well as a basic multiplication theorem. When Rani returns some grains of rice that spilled from one of the raja's baskets, the ruler gives the girl the reward she requests: one grain of rice on that day, and for 29 subsequent days, double the amount of rice as the day before. Underscoring just how astute the child's negotiation is, Demi includes a double-page foldout depicting the take on the 30th day: 256 elephants carry 536,870,912 grains of rice, bringing enough to feed the entire kingdom. Unfortunately, readers follow a rather monotonous path to reach this effective conclusion, as the author recites a litany of how many bags and how many grains of rice are delivered on various though thankfully not all days in the time period. In the end, it isn't the plot that impresses, but rather the elegance and serenity of the accomplished art. Ages 5-8. (Apr.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 March
In this elegantly illustrated traditional Indian tale, a greedy raja rewards a village girl for her honesty by granting her anything she would ask. The clever Rani asks for one single grain of rice to be doubled daily for 30 days: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and so on. By the 27th day, 32 Brahma bulls are needed to deliver the 64 baskets of rice; on the 30th and final day, two pages fold out to convince unbelieving readers of the enormous quantity: 256 elephants march in rows and columns, carrying the entire contents of the royal warehouses. All together, there are over one billion rice grains. Demi's paint-and-ink illustrations, styled after 16th- and 17th-century Indian miniature paintings, are framed in red and gold. Precisely rendered animals and characters stand out against the opulently colored backgrounds, while the red-clothed raja and Rani are often depicted against gold. The mathematical concept, the binary sequence, is clearly presented within the story but also summarized numerically on a chart on the last page. While there are other versions of this folktale available, such as Helena Pittman's A Grain of Rice (Bantam, 1992), David Birch's The King's Chessboard (Dial, 1988), and David Barry's The Rajah's Rice (Freeman, 1995), none match Demi's for authenticity, illustrative grandeur, and textual clarity. A terrific choice for illuminating the curriculum: art of India, folklore, and, of course, mathematics. Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 December
Gr 1-4 A resourceful village girl outsmarts a greedy raja, turning a reward of one grain of rice into a feast for a hungry nation. Delicate paintings emblazoned with touches of gold give this Indian folktale an exotic air. (March) Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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