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Gigi Carunungan
Maya the Clothes Maker and Ramon the Button Maker
Maya and Ramon have a problem. The shirt they’ve designed for a very tall man is missing some buttons! Together with their friend Bikoy, MathXplorers help them solve this problem and discover equations by exploring how to make bigger numbers with smaller numbers by adding to, putting together, and using math symbols to solve real world problems. Hands-on activities are integrated into the storybook action with the MathPack activity package included with each book.
In the town of Whatever, where people think they don’t understand math so they avoid it altogether, Maya is a clothes maker, and her friend Ramon is a button maker. Maya uses Ramon’s buttons to create her colorful and unique clothes, but they run into an issue when a shirt Maya has made doesn’t have enough buttons. Luckily, Bikoy, a visitor from the city and lover of math equations, enters the shop just in time to show Maya and Ramon how math can help solve their problem. Maya the Clothes Maker and Ramon the Button Maker features accessible writing, colorful and expressive illustrations, and a plot that drives the math concepts being taught.

Carunungan and illustrator Jessica Liou imagine an eye-pleasing, bustling town and tale with six algebraic concepts (“Sets are groups of the same types of objects”) woven through–and a host of cheerful, diverse Whatever residents, kids and adults both, to apply them to clearly described situations. Readers (called “MathXplorers”) are invited to work out the puzzles with the townies, of course, and given space on the pages to do so. At times the layout, which often includes multiple concepts on one page or one concept repeated multiple ways, can get cluttered, and it isn’t always as intuitive and clear as the written explanations. Several clever activities are included, like a game involving buttons and dice to help design shirts; these can run multiple pages, interrupting the flow of the narrative. Repeat readings will likely make the book and its think-along math challenges more inviting.

Still, having a child-centered and interactive book that explains math concepts is something that could help even the most math-averse kids. Carunungan offers an engaging, colorful, and interactive resource for teaching younger kids math concepts through character examples.

Takeaway: The town of Whatever’s diverse characters and colorful illustrations help engage young readers in basic math concepts.

Great for fans of: Eve Merriam’s 12 Ways to Get to 11, Dayle Ann Dodds’s Minnie’s Diner.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A