Reviews for Great Divide


Horn Book Guide Reviews 2000 Spring
From eighty to forty to twenty and down to one, a group taking part in a cross-country race is continually divided in half by various accidents and natural disasters. The book's math pattern is fudged at the end in order to provide one winner, but the rhyming text is bouncy, and the colorful folk-art paintings with snazzy racing-checker graphics show grannies, clowns, cowpokes, pirates, and convicts, among others, as participants.Copyright 2000 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1999 November #2
From Dodds (The Shape of Things, 1994, not reviewed, etc.), a rhyming, reckless text that makes a math process pleasurably solvable; Mitchell's illustrative debut features a smashing cast of 1930s characters and a playfulness that will keep readers guessing. The premise is a Great Race: at the sound of the gun, 80 bicycle racers take off at top speed. The path diverges at the top of a cliff, and half the racers hurtle forever downward and right out of the race and the book. The remaining 40 racers determinedly continue in boats, their curls, spyglasses, eye patches, matronly upswept hairdos, and Clara Bow lips intact. Whirlpools erupt to divide them again and wreck their ships, so it's time to grab the next horse and ride on. The race continues, despite abrupt changes in modes of transportation and in the number of racers that dwindle by disastrous divisions, until a single winner glides over the finish line in a single-prop plane. The pace is so breathless and engaging that the book s didactic origins all but disappear; few readers will notice that they've just finished a math problem, and most will want to go over all the action again. (Picture book. 5-10) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 December #2
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.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 February #1
"In this crafty story of a cross-country race called `The Great Divide,' numerical division accounts for the narrowing of the field," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 5-10. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 November
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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