Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Add & Subtract With Hairy Hank is an educational picture book for children written by Cheryl A. Matsen-Nieves and illustrated by Toby Mikle. Addition and subtraction are abstract concepts that can be very difficult for young children to master. They frequently get nervous and feel overwhelmed by the equations and rules for even these simple arithmetical procedures. Matsen-Nieves and her iconic counting hippo, Hairy Hank, introduce addition and subtraction in a non-threatening and familiar way that makes counting a fun activity rather than a learning experience. Parents and caregivers will automatically know that there is a great deal of learning going on along with the rhyming and playing with jacks, but young readers will get so wrapped up in the jacks, the hippo and the rhythms, that they'll not even notice that they're mastering some difficult concepts for children their age. Toby Mikle's illustrations are brightly colored and cheerful, and they make it virtually impossible to resist following those dancing jacks with your own eyes and beginning to count them for yourself.
Cheryl A. Matsen-Nieves's educational picture book for children, Add & Subtract With Hairy Hank, makes learning arithmetic fun, and that's a very good thing. While some kids automatically take to numbers and arithmetic, it can seem challenging and completely incomprehensible to others. Young readers will get so captivated by Hank and his dancing jacks, that they'll quickly find that the apprehension and fear they’ve associated with learning arithmetic is not really such a big deal after all. Counting, adding and subtracting becomes simply a way of playing along with the characters in the story rather than the mastery of abstract concepts. I've always enjoyed the puzzles and magic inherent in arithmetic and math and am one of those rare beings who actually loves algebra, so I've often found myself tutoring kids and adults who have math problems. I was very curious to see how Matsen-Nieves would approach these numbers concepts and was very impressed by her approach. The rhythm and energy of her lyrics work beautifully to disarm those number fears, and Mikle's illustrations are perfect accompaniments. Add & Subtract With Hairy Hank is highly recommended.