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The Picture Book Buzz

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Tara Lazar has done it again. After studying Little Red Gliding Hood and taking a couple of webinars with her, I expected a humorous tale. But she has delivered a side-splitting tale, full of math puns. It is so much fun for both kids and adults!

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story

Author: Tara Lazar

Illustrator: Ross MacDonald

Publisher: Disney Hyperion (2017)

Ages: 3-5



Numbers, humor, mystery, and play on words.

Synopsis (From Barnes & Noble):

6 has a problem.

Everyone knows that 7 is always after him. Word on the street is that 7 ate 9. If that's true, 6's days are numbered. Lucky for him, Private I is on the case. But the facts just don't add up.

It's odd.

Will Private I put two and two together and solve the problem . . . or is 6 next in line to be subtracted?

Opening Lines:

I was dozing in my chair when an urgent banging on my office door bolted me awake.

It was 6. Something had scared the pants off him.

"7 is coming to get me," said 6.

As a PRIVATE I, I'm used to his type - numbers.

THey're always stuck in a problem.

But I knew about this 7 fells. He was odd.

Why I like this book:

This book is packed full of puns and math jokes. Ross MacDonald played along with Tara Lazar and added many gags into the illustrations. For instance, a slice of pi, for the price of $3.14. And the private detective's name painted on the door - Inspector Al F. Bet. Even the end papers are a masterful series of puns - 7 is "the prime suspect."

Tara also managed to cram the story full of sayings related to the numbers (seventh heaven & nine lives). This books begs for multiple reads, just to catch all the jokes in the text and the illustrations, I laughed, chuckled, and guffawed in the bookstore aisle. Then giggled as I read it again in the checkout line.

Set as a film noir mystery, Tara's private eye, a real letter"I" complete with a tie and a fedora, is faced with a case. His client, the number 6, believes that 7 ate 9 and is now after him. Which he always is, after all. Using rotary telephones, vintage vehicles, and cozy store fronts, Ross transports us into the 1930-40's. Ross imbues the numbers and letters with amazing personality, using shoes, tiny hands, and ingeniously expressive faces.

After a bit of investigating, and eating pi, the detective flips the tables and reveals the real issue - jealousy. Case solved, I is ready to for letter cases (upper and lower) , when - you guessed it - another number startles him awake.

Tara and Ross have created a truly masterfully puny mystery around the number line. It is a new favorite of mine. Well worth multiple reads to appreciate the subtle and not so subtle humor, as well as a great mentor text for the interaction of text and illustration. This is a great book for kids of all ages.

Related Activities:

- create your own math puns, jokes, or story.

- if you enjoyed laughing at numbers, check out the Sir Cumference books (additional math pun picture books)

- Scholastics has some math mysteries to explore. (

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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