________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 29 . . . . April 1, 2011


ADDverse: Farmer Yercle's Circles & Peter Pattern.

M. W. Penn. Illustrated by M. Śliczniak-Świrszcz.
Vancouver, BC: Gumboot Books, 2009.
36 pp., stapled, $11.99.
ISBN 978-0-9784351-9-6.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Renée Englot.

*** /4



The farm that Farmer Yercle owns is called the Circle 8, and nothing on that silly farm is oval, square or straight.

Every field of corn and hay designed by Farmer Yercle is absolutely round, round, round. His plow moves in a circle.

ADDverse is composed of two rhyming math poems. They are "Farmer Yercle's Circles" and "Peter Pattern." "Farmer Yercle's Circles" describes a farm where everything is rounded. It is light on the mathematical content, but it is fun. The rhymes are cute, and the illustrations even more so. The colours are bright, and there's plenty for children to look at. The pictures invite children to lean in for closer investigation.

      "Peter Pattern," the second half of the book, invites children to become pattern gurus. There are patterns to the words, patterns suggested by the words, and patterns within the illustrations. Searching for the patterns in the illustrations makes the book similar to seek and find books.

      Unfortunately, the illustrations in the "Peter Pattern" section are problematic. For example, on the first page, M. Sliczniak-Swirszcz has drawn coloured frogs floating on lily pads in four rows. The lily pad pattern is clear - light, dark, dark, light, dark, dark. The frog pattern is harder to discern - two green frogs followed by a coloured frog. However, there's no pattern to the colours between the greens - blue, pink, purple, yellow, brown, pink, blue, orange, red, purple pink. Additionally, with rows and columns, it's hard to figure out if the pattern is supposed to be read left to right in each row or zigging back and forth, and even whether one should start on the bottom row or the top. On the page that says, "Do you see the threads repeat in the cloth that weaves a sheet?", there does not appear to be a pattern to the quilt. Music lovers may be annoyed to note that the pattern in the music doesn't fit any time signature. It's a little thing, but it wouldn't have been hard to do it better. Another page is almost offensive. The illustrations feature pale-skinned, pot bellied person in a feathered headdress sitting in a cave painted with pictures of kudu antelopes. Kudu are found in Africa while the person is clearly meant to represent a North American Native. Finally, some of the numeric patterns in the illustrations will be too difficult for the targeted age range, but I do think older children would enjoy trying to find the patterns.

      The rhyming verse is well done. The rhymes don't have that awkward forced feeling, and the meter is steady, though in one spot Penn loses the rhyme completely: "Do you see the threads repeat in the cloth that weaves a sheet? In your shirt and towel or in the rug upon the floor?" Surely this could have been reworked to rhyme, given that every other couplet in the book rhymes.

      Despite my concerns with the illustrations in "Peter Pattern," I do think children will enjoy the poetry, the busy, colourful pictures and the mathematical challenges. The book is billed as volume 1 of ADDverse. Penn provides lesson plans for PreK to Grade 2 teachers on her website, mwpenn.com.


Renée Englot is a former junior high school teacher now working as a professional storyteller in school settings. She holds a Master of Arts in Children's Literature.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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