7 Ate 9: a Mathematical Detective Tale

Mystery Month 2017Cindy: 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story (2017) by Tara Lazar will have young readers adding up clues in order to understand 9’s mysterious disappearance. A panicked 6 awakens Detective Al F. Bet, snoozing at his desk, to tell him 9 is missing. Rumor has it that 7 ate 9—and 6 is sure that 7 is coming for him next. The Private I—a large, pink, capital letter “I”—isn’t surprised.

I’m used to his type—numbers. They’re always stuck in a problem.
But I knew about this 7 fella. He was odd.

And so begins a pun-filled mathematical mystery full of noir jargon that’s both groan-worthy and oh-so-much-fun. Some of the humor may go over young reader’s heads (a diner sells slices of pi for $3.14), but adults reading this with younger children can explain whatever the child is ready to understand.

Lynn: Here’s a mystery that goes by the book, puts two and two together, and solves the crime! Sharp-eyed readers will find math jokes and puns on every page. As Cindy says, the usual picture book audience may not have encountered some of the concepts, but older readers will, making this a great choice for middle-school math classrooms.

Ross MacDonald’s illustrations have a terrific retro feel, harking back to the 30’s noir style. He uses colored pencils, watercolors, and 19th century wood type. There’s so much to notice that re-reading will always be fun. (Chubby 8 subtracts her belt changing her to 0—a perfect disguise.) The oversized numbers and letters sport tiny arms, legs, faces and comedic details that make for even more fun. The answer to this mystery is a delight. Along the way, kids learn that math has a whimsical side. Don’t miss the endpages!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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