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The Warlord's Beads
Virginia Walton Pilegard
Illustrations by Nicolas Debon
Picture Book (Series)

Ages 6 to 8
Pelican Publishing, 2001, 1-56554-863-9

  The warlord has a great deal of treasure and when Chuan and his father came to live in the warlord's palace, the great man gave Chuan's father the job of organizing and counting his treasures. For some reason, though their life is very comfortable in the palace, Chuan's father is not happy; something is worrying the man and Chuan sets off to find out what.
  It isn't long before he learns what is troubling his father; the poor man cannot seem to get his counting straight. He is often interrupted as he works and he loses track of where he is with his counting. Chuan tries to help his father by using his fingers, and his toes, to keep track of the numbers. Though things begin well enough, after a while they do not proceed as they should and Chuan loses track of things. Then the clever boy comes up with an idea. Why shouldn't he use some beads to help his father count? The boy strings the beads onto three sticks, with each bead counting as either one, ten, or one hundred boxes depending on which stick it is on. Even if they are interrupted, Chuan and his father can now know how much they have counted so far
  This wonderful tale of how the first abacus was invented is both interesting and entertaining. Readers will be able to see how useful tools are often invented on the spur of the moment from sheer necessity. The author includes some historical information at the back of the book about the history of the abacus and she also describes how the reader can make his or her own counting frame.
  An almost lyrical text full of imagery is superbly complimented by Nicolas Debon's wonderful illustrations.

The warlord's beads

 

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