That’s a Possibility!


Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
Goldstone builds on his mini-oeuvre of math-themed picture books (following Great Estimations and Greater Estimations) by placing the study of probability in a playful, real-world context. Starting with basic concepts of possibility, certainty, and impossibility (“Will an elephant hatch from this egg? That’s impossible!”), he stages highly specific situations in photographic and digital illustrations. “Will this butterfly land on one of the purple flowers?” he asks. “That’s probable. Can you see why?” (Spiky purple thistles dwarf and outnumber two yellow flowers, helping readers make the connection.) Goldstone slowly builds complexity, using dice and cards to examine odds and scenarios with a great many possible outcomes. A smart intro to a pivotal math concept.


School Library Journal (starred review)
As he did in Great Estimations, Goldstone takes a mathematical concept and makes it easily understandable for children and great fun as well. Using a question/answer format, he explains possibility, impossibility, probability, improbability, and certainty. Each concept is accompanied by photographs that are not only sharp and clear, but that also employ colors that make the pictures really pop. Varying sizes and fonts add interest, and the subjects that Goldstone has chosen to illustrate the concepts have a great deal of child appeal. The pages featuring combinations have adorable Squidgy the Bear dressed in the 100 outfits made possible by his possessing 10 shirts and 10 pairs of pants. It’s “bearly possible” to predict which outfit he will wear because of the 1 in 100 odds. This book will be a boon to teachers working with these concepts, and it will attract browsers as well. A first purchase.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ


There’s a strong possibility that children will be intrigued by this flashy introduction to the math concept of probability. Sumptuous and delectable photos of a wide range of items, such as gum balls, colorful balloons, goldfish, flowers, parrots, and a teddy bear (with 100 outfits no less!), fill the pages and are used to demonstrate what constitutes possible, impossible, certain, probable, unlikely, and so forth. The concepts are put forth simply in a few sentences with questions directed at the reader. For example, alongside a photo of a child jumping into water is text that reads, “What will probably happen when this jumper hits the water?” This is a sterling example of how to make a potentially difficult and possibly offputting topic easy to swallow. Children who have devoured this will not be prepared for Probability 101, nor will it help them win the lottery, but it is a fine, playful introduction and—as Goldstone suggests in the author’s note—it could help them articulate their ideas when discussing possibilities. — Randall Enos


Kirkus Review
Odds are, Goldstone’s latest math title will provide readers with both the vocabulary and the practice to make them likely experts at determining probability.Certain, likely, (im)possible, (im)probable, odds: These are the words that Goldstone focuses on, highlighting them in the text, defining them and providing well-chosen, kid-friendly photos and digital illustrations so they can put them to use. Six lines of birds on electrical wires prompt the question: “If one of these birds flies away, what color will it probably be? What colors are possible, but not likely? What colors are impossible?” From gumball and prize machines to coin tosses, cards and dice, Goldstone leaves no stone unturned. His scenario involving game spinners is especially good—players have to choose between two spinners, and spots on the game board that say “Go back to START” and “Jump to FINISH” have to be taken into consideration. The book finishes with a look at permutations. A stuffed bear with 10 shirts and 10 pairs of pants has a total of 100 different combinations to choose among (and they are all shown!). A race with two racers has two possible results, but add a third entrant, and the possibilities go up to six. Backmatter provides readers with a few probability-related activities, an author’s note and a few notes on answers to the questions in the text.

Certain to be popular with teachers, this is also certain to improve any child’s understanding.

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