STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Stem Friday: The Lion’s Share


Frontcover of The Lion's ShareWhen I was a kid my family would have icecream cake for dessert on special occasions. To avoid fighting with my sister over who got the biggest slice, we’d always slice up the cake on the same basis: “You Cut, I Choose“. As you can imagine, we took a LOT of care making sure our slices were each the same size!

If we’d have known the sleight of hand employed by the animals in The Lion’s Share: A Tale of Halving cake and Eating it, Too by Matthew McElligott meals might not have ended so harmoniously…

Once a year, the king of the jungle invites a select group of animals to join him for a banquet. Towards the end of the evening a large cake is laid on the table, and the lion’s guests each take half of the cake in front of them, before passing on the cake to the next guest. Everyone has a “half”… that’s fair, isn’t it?

Little Ant, a first-time guest at the feast trembles when all she has to pass on to the lion, her host (and last in line round the table), is less than a few crumbs. How can she make good the rude manners exhibited by the other guests? How can she make up for their greediness?

Ant offers to bake lion a special cake by way of recompense. Lion is delighted, but the other animals present do not wish to be outwitted by an ant, the smallest creature present. Soon each one is promising to bake twice as many cakes as the last animal to profess their baking skills. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32…. Can a king have too many cakes?

A book about fractions, multiplication, and division as well as good manners, greed and CAKE, this is a wonderfully exciting, funny book for introducing and consolidating some at-time challenging mathematical concepts. The maths and the morals are approached with humour, and the beautiful, bold, fantastical illustrations (256 peanut butter pound cakes, anyone?) ensure that this is a STEM book that kids will read with a giggle, “accidentally” learning as they enjoy the trick of the cake slicing and the outrageousness of the cake baking.

A cake inspired by The Lion's Share

The Lion’s Share: A Tale of Halving cake and Eating it, Too
by Matthew McElligott
Walker Books (2009, 1st paperback edition July 2012)
0802797687 (HBk) / 0802723608 (PBk)
Source: Own copy

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8 thoughts on “Stem Friday: The Lion’s Share

  1. Really like the look of that for Child3, who’s an uber-geek (said in awe, not criticism). We need more books like this!

  2. Zoe, this looks like a wonderful book. Peanut butter pound cake? Where do I sign up? Thank you for sharing with us this week. At NC Teacher Stuff, I finally use the E in STEM with Seven Wonders of Architecture:

  3. Love this blog and this post and thanks Zoe!

  4. What a neat book! I would like to halve my cake and eat it too…. and now there’s a book that will explain how to do it…. Over at Archimedes Notebook I’m looking at the relationship between birds and landscape.

  5. Fantastic. I will look out for this as I teach children struggling with numeracy and always need something interesting!

  6. What a fun way to investigate fractions (and more)!

    I have The Case of the Soda Explosion by Darlene Stille at Wrapped in Foil

  7. My brothers and sister did that, too. But it was the rare bottle of Coke that we divided using that method. The book looks like fun. Today at SimplyScience I have About Hummingbirds, by Catherine and John Sill.

  8. Pingback: About Hummingbirds « SimplyScience Blog