CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 3. . . . October 4, 2002
Oliver's Party is an introduction to addition and subtraction in story format for young readers. The main character, Oliver, is celebrating a birthday and has invited nine friends to join him for his party. One at a time, the guests arrive each with their own personality and preferences. As Oliver greets them, a number sentence appears on the bottom of the page noting the growing total. Once all ten friends are at the party, games are played, the cake is eaten, and the gifts are opened. After that, each guest leaves one at a time and are subtracted from the group. The book ends with a tired but happy Oliver on his own again.
As far as design goes, Oliver's Party is quite clever. The rectangular shaped book (8x12) is divided into 10 layover flaps which are colour and number coded for addition. When you flip over the final flap, the subtraction sentences appear, and the reader counts backwards through the second half of the story. While the plot of the story is extremely simple, an effort has been made by the author to add some detail and personality to each of Oliver's friends to break up the repetition of the story. The drawings by illustrator Angela Jolliffe are colourful with a distinctive style but tend to be busy on the page with a lot of movement, detail and background. Each page also contains an illustrated number sentence with the same characters in miniature and number words. This, combined with the "busy" illustrations, makes some of the pages overwhelming for the reader. Children would enjoy counting the small figures at the bottom of the page for themselves and will probably have an easier time with the addition sentences than the subtraction as the latter has an extra drawing in the sentence. Overall, Oliver's Party introduces young readers to basic number operations in an entertaining way. Early-years teachers will appreciate the math/literature link as it is always beneficial to have new ways to introduce or review concepts with their students.
Lisa Sykes has worked as an early-years teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB, and is currently enjoying her time at home with her two young children.
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