Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligott

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Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligott

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An amusing look at why thirteen beans do not divide up between a group of friends. It's arithmetic without the word being mentioned. Definitely recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: May 2007
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
ISBN: 978-0399245350

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The Bugs, Ralph and Flora, were out picking beans one warm summer evening. Flora wondered how many they had and Ralph thought that it was twelve but when Flora reached up to pick just one more he shouted:


Thirteen, it seemed was an unlucky number and after all the banter about whether or not Ralph was being silly about this, he explained. First they took the beans they'd collected and divided them into two piles – but there was one over. The obvious solution (after a little more light banter) was to invite a guest over. Ralph wondered if they were going to give April just the one bean, but Flora said they would divide the beans into three piles.

Well, of course you know exactly what's going to happen, don't you? More and more friends were invited but try as Ralph and Flora might they could never divide the beans up equally between themselves and their friends. It was left to Flora to come up with an ingenious solution to the problem. She put all the beans in the big bowl and told everyone to help themselves.

Oh, it's a lovely little book, you know. It's sums without anyone mentioning the word. It's prime numbers, division and multiplication without anyone even suggesting that's what you're doing. In fact you might just read the book and think that it was a story about a couple of bugs who thought that thirteen might be an unlucky number. You could even just love the fact that there are bright colours and the book's good to look at.

I'd like to see one of these books (at the very least) in every primary school library just because it shows that numbers have a practical application in a fun way and because it just might get children wondering about numbers. At home, it might not stay on the favourites shelf indefinitely but I still think that you'll think it money well spent.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Rather younger children will enjoy The Selfish Crocodile Counting Book by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry. We thought Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott was great fun too.

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Buy Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligott at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bean Thirteen by Matthew McElligott at


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