THE TERRIFIC TIMES TABLES BOOK. By Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels. Random House. pound;12.99
Perfect if you are desperate to learn your tables," said Jeremy, aged eight. There is a kind of whirling, swirling freneticism about this dazzlingly bright pop-up book. How much it will contribute to the learning of number facts will depend on the child. A variety of devices, from individual characters for each number (Samuel Six runs a sweet factory, for instance), to lift-the-flap, pull-the-snake, twirl-the-clock graphics, to repeat examples of each multiple, though tiring to an adutl reader should glue children to the page.
The book has many virtues. There are jokes - for instance, in Fatima Five's toy shop five little soldiers sternly declare: "No toys for babies, 0 x 5 = 0". There are lively glimpses into child life - a porpoise keeps a school diary. Some of the paper-engineering is intricate and amazing - the 10 pull-the-tab robot fingers are scarily convincing. The inclusion of zero in the tables and a 12-square add mathematical weight to the fun.
Hopefully, the razzamatazz will assist the process of seeding tables deep in the long-term memory. Octopi are entertaining but multiples of eight need to be silent servants, not just at our fingertips, but in our brain. For that, you need repetition, repetition, repetition.