Black-outlined colorful paintings provide a lush backdrop for the story’s circa–200 C.E. China setting, with royal characters in long robes and bejeweled crowns. An addendum includes well-defined activities for understanding buoyancy and scale measurement, a succinct history and geography of the Han Dynasty, and a biography of Cao Chong. Nicely produced and balanced in its instructive approach.
Cao Chong is a young child, but proves he's quite smart. He lays his eyes on an elephant for the first time when one is presented as a birthday gift. Many prestigious adults wonder aloud what the elephant might weigh. They try to come up with solutions on how to find the answer but they're fruitless in finding one that works. Cao Chong comes up with a clever idea and puts it to work, finally solving the riddle on how much the elephant actually weighs.
This is a truly wonderful tale about a small boy with big ideas. When a question is raised in the kingdom, Chong uses his intelligence to find the answer. Readers will learn new ways to solve problems, enjoy a delightful tale and learn a bit about Chinese culture at the same time. Very well written by author Songju Ma Daemiske. I really love the detail in Christina Wald’s illustrations too.
What do you get when you take a charming tale about a little boy and a cute elephant and add a little science into the mix? You get Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant, a delightful story that young readers will love.
Author Songju Ma Daemicke has written a delightful story based on a tale her grandfather told her. That tale was based on the true story of Cao Chong (196-208), a child prodigy who used the principle of buoyancy to learn the weight of an elephant. Children will love reading about a young boy who "out thought" all the adults around him, and came up with a brilliant solution to weighing the elephant. Artist Christina Wald has added her own bright interpretation of the story to bring this tale to life. At the back of the book are several pages of additional learning, with information on buoyancy, using scales, facts about Cao Chong and a "Then and Now" look at the geography of China.
This book gives my girls a small glimpse into a culture that is not their own. They are fascinated to see outfits that are different than their clothes and they enjoy the clever “math” lesson that is found within the story.
This book is creatively written and the illustrations are fantastic. The book encourages children to come up with possible solutions to problems on their own. I like how it is written in a suspenseful way, making you want to keep on reading to the answer to the problem. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with young readers.
There are activities and questions to extend readers' enjoyment of the book and its educational possibilities in the back matter. Youngsters will be delighted that a six-year-old managed to outsmart so many adults as he come up with the best solution to the problem. This title has many uses, including for science and social studies lessons. - Barbara
Readers will be challenged to transport themselves back to a time when an elephant was a true novelty, and how to weigh it would be beyond imagination. But they'll be inspired by one little boy thinks outside the box to come up with a solution.