Miko's Magic Number by Ruth Brown

cover image

Walker, 2010. ISBN 9781406317893.
(Age: 5-8) Readers are invited to roll-up, spin the wheel and choose a number with Miko, the circus mouse, to see if the outcome is a trick or magic. Miko holds 10 brightly coloured balloons with the numbers 1 to 10 printed on them. By picking a number and turning the wheel, children learn to do simple addition and subtraction, but more importantly, they may become engrossed in the idea of numbers and how they work.  I was fascinated by the mathematical concept in the book and had to try a number of times to make sure that the number was magic.
Set in the circus ring with performing mice, this story will bring alive the joys of counting and using numbers. Ruth Brown has drawn Miko as a gorgeous little mouse with a yellow and pink ruff around his neck and a cute little hat topped with a pomp-pom on his head. The ringmaster has a curly moustache and flowing cape and all the mice are wonderful little athletes, performing acrobatic tricks and even walking on a tightrope. Spotlights bring the reader's attention to the mice and a beautiful yellow watercolour forms the background to the big ring.
Not only has this book an idea that will appeal to the imagination and quality illustrations, but the novelty aspects will also attract children. The book appears to be very sturdy with thick paper used throughout. The wheel and peepholes, as well as the flaps, should stand up well under use by inquisitive children.
Nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal longlist 2011, this book is not only educational but a lot of fun to read and think about.
Pat Pledger