Nonfiction Monday – If You Hopped Like a Frog

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This book has been in my teaching collection for a while now. I pull it out every time I teach algebraic thinking and my students and I explore the concepts of ratio and proportion. If You Hopped Like a Frog, written by David Schwartz and illustrated by James Warhola, looks at the world of animal facts and applies them (mathematically) to children of average size. In the introduction, Schwartz lets readers in on a little secret–as a child, he wanted to hop like a frog! But how far could he hop? Realizing that a little bit of math would help him find the answer, he tells readers that with math, they can figure anything out!

The book looks at a series of if-then propositions. If you could hope like a frog, then you could jump from home plate to first base in one leap. In the back of the book, readers learn how each calculation was made. In this case, we learn that a 3-inch frog can hop 60 inches, or about 20 times it’s body length. If the child reading the book is 4.5 feet tall, this means he or she could hop 90 feet! This informational section on hopping like a frog ends with this.

How tall are you? If you could jump 20 times your body length, how far could you go? Measure your height and multiply by 20 to find out!

Some of the other comparisons explored in the book include:

  • If you were as strong as an ant
  • If you had the brain of a brachiosaurus
  • If you swallowed like a snake
  • If you ate like a shrew
  • If you high-jumped like a flea

The comparisons are startling and fun. The illustrations show just how fantastic some of these feats would be if you could indeed do them.

This is a wonderful book for encourage mathematical thinking and for introducing a concept that is often difficult for children to understand. This is an informative and thoroughly engaging book. I highly recommend it.

Book: If You Hopped Like a Frog
Author: David Schwartz
Illustrator: James Warhola
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: 4-8
ISBN: 0-590098-57-8
Source of Book: Personal copy.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen's blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

For those of you interested in learning more about the ideas presented in this book, check out these resources.