Books, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ZERO THE HERO


AUTHOR: Joan Holub

ILLUSTRATOR: Ton Lichtenheld

PUBLICATION INFO: Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books, February 2012

ISBN: 978-0805093841

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: 6 and up, but my four-year-old things this is hilarious

GENRE: picture book (fiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS: “Unlike most numbers, Zero believed himself to be a hero. He just needed a chance to prove it.”

From the publisher: “Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. That’s what all the other numbers think of Zero. He doesn’t add anything in addition. He’s of no use in division. And don’t even ask what he does in multiplication. (Hint: Poof!) But Zero knows he’s worth a lot, and when the other numbers get into trouble, he swoops in to prove that his talents are innumerable.”

THEMES/TOPICS: math, counting

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Rarely do my boys find a book to be laugh-out-loud funny. This book has a lot going for it — a caped superhero, a fight with the Roman (numerals), comic-book comedy and lots of puns. We can’t read this at naptime or bedtime without having a 10-minute conversation about math. In fact, Finley (age 4) walked out of his bedroom after I put him to bed last night to let me know that 1+0 = 1. I am buying this book.

If you need more convincing, check out the book trailer.


  • The publisher has a teacher’s guide on its Web site.
  • BainPop has this helpful lesson on addition and subtraction, which includes zero’s special properties.
  • The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics uses macaroni to explore math concepts including our hero, Zero.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Share this:

Books, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Mission: Addition

Author/Illustrator: Loreen Leedy
Publication Info: Holiday House, 1997
Intended audience: Kindergarten – Grade 2
Genre: nonfiction picture book
Themes/topics: math
Opening and synopsis:
“It was a stormy day, and Miss Prime’s classroom was dark.
‘I’m going to show you just the facts — the addition facts.
Suppose you’re a detective and you find two fingerprints, then you find three more.
Here’s how you write the addition fact with numbers:
2 + 3 = 5’”
 Miss Prime’s class solves all kinds of addition problems, from adding up how many pets they have to summing their restaurant bills.
Why I like this book: Loreen Leedy makes math fun. Here’s the proof: my 5-year-old has requested Mission Addition over and over and over again. And seeing math as fun rather than a slog is a good thing. A recent study showed attitude — yours and your child’s — plays a major role in how successful your children are at math. See Annie Murphy Paul’s column about the study by Andrew Martin of the University of Sydney. With that in mind, I am always on the lookout for fun math books like Leedy’s as well as those of David Schwartz and Ann McCallum.
Resources: On Leedy’s site, she recommends having children add up all the living creatures in their homes, for example family members and pets. You could also replicate some of the activities from the book. Draw a picture  and encourage your children to write a word problem based on the picture. Then solve it. Or help your children weed out old clothes and toys and host a garage sale. Let them add up how much they make from their sales. Leedy also has a handout with Mission Addition activities available on her site (NOTE: It also includes activities from her other early books).
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.