General Book Information
From the Publisher
“Elephant has a bucket of blocks and wants to build something tall. Something as tall as Elephant. But will it stay up? CRASH! BOOM! Not this time. Build it again? One block. Two blocks? Four blocks? It’s still not as tall as Elephant. More blocks! Now will it stay up? Now will it be as tall as Elephant? Build, balance, count — question, estimate, measure — predict, crash, and build again! Young children will happily follow along as Elephant goes through the ups and downs of creating something new and finally celebrates the joy and pride of success.” – Penguin Random House
Crash! Boom! was featured prominently on the ‘New Releases’ shelf at the library this week. As soon as I saw “A Math Tale” on the cover, I knew I had to check it out. I’m always thrilled to see math-related picture books because they can greatly enhance STEM learning during everyday reading experiences. Plus, many education scholars have noticed that when math concepts are embedded within picture books, children learn more about broad math themes and can better recall and retain new math knowledge.
Not only was I happy to see that this book was math-themed, but also that it featured blocks. Blocks are one of the best tools for children to use to learn new math and engineering concepts. Blocks allow kids to design, experiment, make predictions, and execute plans for building different structures. Plus, when children are taught math skills like counting and sorting within their own playtime (as is possible during block play), numbers become much more meaningful and substantial to them.
The style of the illustrations in this book really makes the blocks stand out. While the main character and background are drawn, the blocks appear as though they are photographed. The wood grain of the blocks is projected making them look like those you would see young children using today. Then, as I read the endpaper, I discovered that the blocks were created to mimic those from the renowned education supply and furnishings company, Community Playthings. The author and illustrator include this note at the end of the book, which praises the incredible STEM learning opportunities that can be created from these fun and simple toys:
I thought designing the book in this manner was very smart; so many young children have used blocks like this, whether in a preschool classroom, at the library, or within their own homes. Seeing a character in a book using the same materials they’ve used before is a great way to give children a deeper connection to the story.
The book presents minimal text, so it’s a great option for toddlers or emerging readers. The story follows a small elephant as he goes through the stages of creating structures with his wooden blocks: First, he wants to build a tower as tall as he is, so he counts out the blocks. But when the tower falls, he has to experiment with a new way of creating his tower so it’s more stable.
The book is a great way to introduce young children to the processes of experimentation, testing, and modification within the design process.
Numbers are featured prominently as a part of the text; even if a child can’t read yet, he or she can recite the numbers and count along throughout the book.
There are also many opportunities for fun, interactive reading throughout this story. My 5 year old and I used silly “elephant voices” as we read. She also cracked up as the elephant laughed, cried, danced, and bumped the blocks.
In addition to the great math and STEM content this book provides, I think it also teaches children important lessons about perseverance and persistence in an amusing manner. It’s important for kids to see characters try new ways of accomplishing a task, problem solve, overcome unexpected challenges, and not give up. This book communicates these ideas, and an assortment of math-themed content, but in a way that’s bright, charming, stimulating, and just plain fun! Check it out with your toddler to kindergarten-aged child…and then try building your own tower together!