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Crash! Boom! A Math Tale

Author: Robbie H. Harris
Lower Age: 2
Upper Age: 5
Year Added: 2019

Crash! Boom! A Math Tale is a book written by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Chatterton, and published by CandleWick Press. Intended for children ages 2-5, this is the story of the character Elephant and his endeavor to create a block tower as tall as himself. His first attempt isn’t quite up to snuff so, while he is understandably upset, he tries again until he gets it right.

This book presents a simple problem (making a stable block tower) with simple criteria (making the tower as tall as Elephant). Elephant tries a solution, and when he sees that it can be improved, he generates an idea and tests the new solution. 

Just like an engineer, he doesn’t give up when his solution doesn’t work. He perseveres, figures out what went wrong, and creates something better. Even after he’s found a working solution, he makes an effort to find other ways to accomplish the same thing. Crash! Boom! A Math Tale is a short but sweet introduction to engineering thinking.


Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about:

Idea generation, Create a prototype or process, Test the solution, Make improvements to the solution, Apply mathematical skills


Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: 

A problem to be solved by developing a new or improved object, tool, or process


Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift:

Problem Solving, Perseverance, Iterative design


Overall ratings:

  • Engineering & STEM Experts Reviews

    • Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

    • Feedback:

      • "The book promotes Engineering thinking and design by declaring a problem and trying to use different designs to reach the goal."

      • I think it distills a complex idea in a digestible way to young readers.”