Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Stinky Giant by Ellen Weiss

The Stinky Giant by Ellen Weiss, illustrated by Mel Friedman

Rating: 4.5 stars

Here's a random book for you...  I'm not even sure how it ended up in our library bag (in other words, Ben definitely snuck it in there, as he takes his book hunting skills very seriously).

But it's perfect for both kids.  Lorelei, and therefore Ben, is very much into riddles.  We've played guessing games (for example: "Guess what fruit I'm about to give you.  It's green on the outside and red on this inside....  Right!  A watermelon!") for a long time, so riddles fit right in within our conversations.  Ben, and therefore Lorelei, is very much into anything stinky and gross.  So...The Stinky Giant that hands out a riddle to two kids he might eat?  Count us in!

I didn't expect to like this book so much, but I do because it involves some thinking and some science.  Two very good things.

Urk the giant lives atop a mountain.  Every time he does his laundry, his dirty water floods two innocent kids below.  When they go to Urk to complain, he challenges them to a contest: He'll give them a riddle.  If they get it right, he'll move away.  If they get it wrong, he'll eat them for dinner.  Yikes.

Here's the riddle: "There is something you see every day, and it is one thing but also three things."

After working together to think of the answer and coming up with many of wrong guesses, the kids realize that the answer is water, as it is liquid, vapor, and ice as well as simply water.  Urk has to move away, and the kids live happily ever after.

I like the book because it fosters the whole riddle/word problem mentality.  We're all about word problems here, though from time to time I do throw up the white flag and say, "Not tonight!" when my brain is too tired to think up word problems for little ones...  Okay, maybe it's my patience that goes first.

Either way, it's a good book to read and a great habit to start.  Here are some word problems that we use, to help get you started (besides that whole fruit riddle listed above):

For Lorelei, 5: You are at a birthday party with four friends--two boys and two girls.  Each girl wants two pieces of cake, and each boy wants one piece.  How many pieces are served?

For Ben, 3 1/2: Lorelei, Ben, and Kiefer are running in a race.  Lorelei finishes the race in 5 minutes.  Ben finishes the race in 10 minutes.  Kiefer finishes the race in 12 minutes.  Who wins the race?

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