Math is a necessary part of all of our lives and understanding the many concepts will help youngsters as they navigate through life. Here are recent picture books that explore the concepts of amount, time, shapes, comparisons and capacity.

Let’s begin with books that deal with numbers and explorations of problem solving. Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse:  Mickey’s 1,2,3s is a set of mini number books. Each number book is in a shape numbering 1 through 5. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Numbers Discovery Box is filled with reading number words, counting up to 25, matching number sets and more. Oh What a Beautiful Day! A Counting Book,by Jeanne Modesitt, and illustrated by Robin Spowart, is a simple, yet beautifully illustrated, book as a young girl walks through a park in Spring and counts all that surrounds her. Mouse Count,by Ellen Stoll Walsh, has recently been reissued as a lap-size board book as well as having the text being bilingual. This very clever tale has 10 ambitious and smart mice out counting a snake.

The Big Storm:  A Very Soggy Counting Book,by Nancy Tafuri, takes the event of a thunderstorm to show animals as we count them running for cover. Fuzzytails: 1 2 3,by Lisa McCue, is a touch-and-feel counting book with vivid colors and bright and sometimes textured numbers that count up to 10. Click, Clack 1 2 3,by Doreen Cronin, and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, continues in the ever-popular series with those cute cows as they sneak away from one sleeping farmer and the counting and fun begins. What a fun small board book for tiny hands!

Now for some books showcasing differences. Not All Animals Are Blue:  A Big Book of Little Differences, by Beatrice Boutignon, is full of pictures that will surely help youngsters begin to notice each group of five animals as differences are made known. Opposnakes:  A Lift-the-Flap Book of Opposites,by Salina Yoon, is a cleverly packaged and titled book that opens into a double-page spread with snakes that are at first straight and then when opened become tangled. These brightly painted snakes will have you proclaiming – “snakes alive!” Big, Bigger, Biggest!, by Nancy Coffelt, begins with a large elephant and with the turn of each page you see a bigger, then the biggest animal. There are also small, hungry and slow animals. Each page has just one animal that is painted with brilliant acrylic paint. Pastry School in Paris: An Adventure in Capacity, by Cindy Neuschwander, and illustrated by Bryan Langdo, continues in the author’s tradition of teaching math through stories. Two children, along with their family, head to Paris to go to a pastry academy. They learn to understand the differences in the liquid amounts between their American training and the metric system. At the climax, they must quickly assess, convert, modify and apply how to bake brownies when they learn the Parisian inspector has suddenly shown up.  There are some wonderful experiments found at the back of the book to help children learn capacity concepts.

I’ll end this review with books about shapes and time. Shape by Shape,by one of my favorite illustrators, Suse MacDonald, has her popular die cut pages demonstrating many types of shapes. Each page has just one color which helps the shapes take shape. These shapes are beginning to take form as you approach the end where there is a great surprise waiting. When It’s Six O’Clock in San Francisco:  A Trip Though Time Zones,by Cynthia Jaynes Omololu, and illustrated by Randy DuBurke, is one of the best books to help children understand the same time in different time zones throughout the world. It shows one child in San Francisco and what he’s doing at 6:00 a. m. and the rest of the book shows the progress of time and what other children are doing as reflected on the beginning California time. There are clocks located at the bottom of each page to help reinforce understanding as well as more information about time located in the back. The Time Book:  A Brief History from Lunar Calendars to Atomic Clocks,by Martin Jenkins, and illustrated by Richard Holland, goes into an in-depth look at how time has evolved into what it is now. There’s an index found at the back as chances are you’ll want to look up interesting facts about time.