Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant

Booklist - November 2018

Without a scale large enough, six-year-old Cao Chong creatively considers several designs and devises a mathematical process to measure the weight of an elephant. Based on a true story from ancient Chinese history, this puzzle will show students how math helps solve real-world problems.

Kirkus Reviews - July 2017

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.

Science Books & Films - August/September 2018

This book follows the story of Cao Chong, a six-year-old prodigy in ancient China, who devises a way to weigh an elephant when all the leader’s senior advisors had failed. This entertaining story conveys some basic concepts on scientific reasoning and may also inspire youngsters to think outside the box and ask probing questions. An interactive e-book is available that reads aloud in English and Spanish. The "For Creative Minds" section of the book provides educational resources on science, geography, and history relating to the story, which can be used by parents and teachers. Very well illustrated. Recommended.—John Charles Pugh, Bethesda, MD

Midwest Book Review - January 2018

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant" is a beautiful retelling of ancient Chinese tale about a boy genius, a child prodigy named Cao Chong who lived nearly two thousand years ago in China... Written for students ages 4-8, "Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant" continues the tale's lessons with a section For Creative Minds on Sink or Float: Understanding Buoyancy, Using Scales, Cao Chong in History, and Geography: China Then and Now. An ancient history records the life and achievements of Cao Chong, who was born in 196 AD. The colored illustrations help bring the events of long ago Han to life for contemporary readers.

Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children's Books - Winter 2018

The story is told here with humor and delight and accompanied by bright illustrations with a nice Asian flavor. End pages include more information about Cao Chong and China, as well as activities involving scales and buoyancy. This is a fun book that shows students that children can sometimes succeed where adults falter.

Children's and Young Adult Book Review Board of Missouri

Wald's uncluttered, colorful, illustrations expand the uncomplicated, humorous, account of Cao Chong's accomplishment in 196 AD. The simplicity of the account belies the intricate mathematical and scientific principles hidden in the riddle.

Children's Bookwatch - April 2018

"Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant" is a beautiful retelling of ancient Chinese tale about a boy genius, a child prodigy named Cao Chong who lived nearly two thousand years ago in China. he was a curious boy, the son of Cao, the Prime Minister of Han, excited to see a huge animal for the first time, an elephant, which was a birthday present to his father.

Archimedes Notebook - January 2018

Archimedes' principle - how can I not like it! Plus a creative way to introduce a complex idea to kids - and lots of back matter and activities.

Heck of a Bunch - October 2017

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.

Texas Kitchen - October 2017

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.

Feathered Quill Book Reviews - October 2017

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.

Outnumbered 3 to 1 - October 2017

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.

Views by Kelly - October 2017

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.

Goodreads Reviews

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.

Manhattan Book Review - February 2018

This book is written in a fun way so that the reader can make guesses about weighing an elephant, too...I was impressed with the number and variety of educational activities in the back. There are science experiments, a discussion about how elephants are weighed today, a geography activity, and more information about Cao Chong. The activities complemented the story naturally and didn’t feel like they were added just to make the book educational.