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A Very Improbable Story Paperback – 1 Jun 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing,U.S. (1 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570918724
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570918728
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.4 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 458,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anon on 26 April 2010
Format: Paperback
A great book for introducing probability. My children (9 and 7) enjoyed the highly improbable story - a boy wakes up with a talking (mathematical) cat on his head. It refuses to get off until the boy wins a game of probability. I wouldn't recommend the book for the story-line - it's unlikely to be requested as a bed-time read (though the illustrations are fun) - however I would recommend it for Maths teachers. It illustrates the subject competently and is a reassuring introduction to a somewhat difficult concept.
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By jjc on 5 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book - really recommend it to others
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A Very Improbable Story 16 May 2008
By Kirsten G. Cutler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Einhorn, Edward. A Very Improbable Story. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson. Charlesbridge. 2008.

This is a very humorous story that is sometimes slightly slowed by a valiant effort to explain the mathematical concept of probability. "One morning, Ethan woke up with a cat on his head. There was nothing improbable about that. Ethan's cat, Snowy, sometimes curled up there to sleep. But this was different. The cat on Ethan's head wasn't his cat!" This strange cat challenges Ethan to play "games of probability" with him and win, if Ethan wants the cat to get off his head so he can go and play a soccer match. Odds, the cat, tells Ethan to see if he can "pull out 2 matching socks without looking" from his drawer. "It's not as easy as it sounds," he warned, "With 10 pairs of socks, you have a very low probability of finding a match." Of course, Ethan loses this game since as Odds points out, "After you pulled out the first sock there were 19 single socks left. So there was only 1 sock out of 19 that would have let you win." Ethan responds with, "Is that what they call bad odds?" It takes several more games before Ethan finally wins thus enabling the concept of probability to be more fully explained. A paragraph on the final page names the two French mathematicians who developed the concept of probability, and then leaves the reader with a probability problem to solve. This clever well-done book that should appeal to children in grades K-4 may lose some readers as the details of probability are explained; however, others will enjoy playing along with the games.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read for Young Readers!!! 30 May 2008
By Kristin Lundberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This charming and educational story is the perfect introduction to mathematics as it delves into the adventures of problem solving, the process of deductive reasoning and everyday decision making. All of which are basic life skills. The cat is a bit haunting, but he adds a fun drama to the piece and continues to challenge Ethan. It's a wonderful book for young readers to embrace with uncomplicated language and provides even a more indepth terminology section for any addition questions children might have. I completely recommend it as my little one is a HUGE fan!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Terrific book for reading or teaching! 10 Jun. 2008
By A Month of Sundays - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My five year old really enjoys this book and it has been very useful in teaching her the challenging concept of probability. Also, the art work is terrific! I highly recommend it!
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Inaccurate math 10 Jan. 2012
By Cindy Math - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The plot and the examples are engaging enough but the author makes the egregious mathematical error of equating the concepts of probability and odds. On page 16 Ethan says, "I'll pick out a white one. I have only a 25 in 100 chance of doing that." That is a correct statement of probability. But the cat replies, "That's the same as odds of 1 in 4." Odds is the ratio of the number of ways an event can occur compared to the number of ways the event does not occur. In this instance that would be 25 white marbles compared to 75 non-white marbles. If we reduce that ratio the odds are 1 to 3. It's too bad this wasn't fixed in the editing stage of production.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
What are the chances 28 July 2011
By The Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Using literature to introduce mathematical subjects is an excellent technique in classrooms throughout the school years. Almost all people like to be read to. Fortunately, building a library of introductory books is not a great expense and can be done over a number of years. This book is one that belongs in the teacher's resources. A Very Improbable Story is an excellent introduction to probability. I tutor a 1 & 3 grader. We used the book and then worked with dice games. They soon developed a keen sense of what numbers had a greater chance of occurring than others.
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