Nagda, Ann Whitehead & Cindy Bickel. Tiger Math: Learning to Graph from a Baby Tiger. Square Fish, 2002. ISBN 978-0805071610 32 pp. $9.99
In a format that will surely please elementary school teachers struggling with curriculum frameworks, Tiger Math offers both story and instruction. The tragic tale of a motherless baby Siberian tiger named T.J. will capture reader’s sympathy and interest as they read on to discover if will survive. The math part of the book is a natural extension of information. T.J.’s growth and progress is a concern, and is compared to his father’s at the same age. Not only are concepts of graphing introduced, but interpreting data in is equally stressed.
Nagda creates a neat transition from picture graphs to bar graphs, and also explains circle graphs and line graphs. Students will learn when to use which type of graph and how to read graphs. Those not interested in the math can simply read the narrative on the right, and ignore the graphs to the left.
The best part of the book is the photos, showing T.J. in a variety of moods. The captions decorating the endpapers are very appropriate and often humorous. The cover photo alone will make the book leap off the shelves, and the tiger striping is very appealing.
An additional page or two on endangered tigers and the habitat and lifestyle of these magnificent creatures would have extended a third use to the book: school reports on animals. The rarity of Siberian tigers is stressed, and a brief note from an environmental point of view could also have been included.