Seven Golden Rings

By Booklist

Upon first reading, this is a charming folk tale from India about a clever lad who uses his wits to secure a place at the rajah's court. In actuality, it's a tricky introduction to binary reasoning.Bhagat and his mother are starving. In desperation, his mother gives Bhagat their last money, a chain of seven golden rings, and off he goes to enter the rajah's singing contest. He must wait for his turn, and the innkeeper demands one gold ring per night—in advance. How can Bhagat divide the chain so that the innkeeper won't take the whole thing the first night? Bhagat figures out a solution, is finally called to perform after seven days of waiting, but fails to win. Broken-hearted, he turns to leave, but a voice calls for him to wait. It's the innkeeper's wife, who tells the court about Bhagat's math skills and informs the rajah that he really should keep Bhagat around to manage the kingdom's finances. The rajah is persuaded, and Bhagat and his mother move into the palace. The solution (cut the third link) is explained via the vivid, full-page digital illustrations, and back matter provides further details about base 2 computation. This succeeds both as an entertaining read-aloud and as a teasing introduction to the binary system.