The Barnes & Noble Review
If you’re looking for a fun and fast way to learn multiplication (instead of memorizing times tables), look no further! Author Greg Tang and artist Harry Briggs have put together an irresistible picture book that lets multiplying be as easy as 1-2-3.
In Tang’s introduction, he explains that by using his techniques — along with “being clever and using a little common sense” — children will easily go beyond the basic times tables and develop an “intuitive understanding of multiplication.” His methods are right on. In simple rhymes, Tang explains the fundamentals of how each number from 1 to 10 works. His poem “Four Eyes,” for example, explains how any number multiplied by four can be merely doubled twice: “Four is very fast to do, when you multiply by 2. Here’s a little good advice — please just always double twice!” He then goes on to explain: “What is 4×4? It’s 4 doubled twice. Double once: 4 4=8. Double twice: 8 8=16,” and he even provides extra challenge questions below. All of his poems and problems are just as easy (e.g., a number times 6 is tripled, then doubled; a number times 9 is multiplied by 10, then subtracted once), and the book is rounded out with full practice tables in the back.
Tang provides children with an excellent lesson, helping them make sense of daunting math without a bombardment of complicated rules. Kids will cheer his winsome presentation, which is wonderfully complemented by Harry Brigg’s computer illustrations of animals cavorting around and having fun. Both practical and pleasing, The Best of Times is math that’ll help make homework and tests a breeze. Matt Warner