by Edward Einhorn
This picture book for older children introduces the idea of probability using a funny, fantastical premise: A boy named Ethan wakes up with a talking cat on the top of his head. The cat informs Ethan that he’ll get off his head if Ethan wins a game of probability. After cartwheels, jumping jacks, and a shower don’t remove the cat, Ethan decides to play along. The two consider a variety of everyday household groupings—coins, socks, marbles, cereal shapes, and even soccer strategies—and eventually Ethan goes from haphazard guessing to a real sense of odds and outcomes. Einhorn moves this math lesson quickly along, spurring it with Ethan’s oft-repeated need to get to his soccer game within the hour—and without the cat. Gustavson’s appealing oil paintings, which depict Ethan and his little sister in all their befuddled wonder, match well with Einhorn’s quirky text and premise. They are full of energy, odd angles, and offbeat perspectives, and kids will want to give them more than a passing glance.