I am ringing in the new year with great hope and anticipation of better days ahead. I’m hoping to see my students faces in person and not on the checkerboard of Zoom. I’m hoping to put some of the great books from my classroom library right into their hands.
Last month, I had the pleasure of sharing Rajani LaRocca’s debut picture book, Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math, with my class. The clever main character, Bhagat, is hoping for better days ahead too. He lives in a dusty village with his mother, toiling to make ends meet. When he learns that the Rajah is offering auditions for musicians to join the royal troupe, Bhagat is eager for the opportunity. His mother is hesitant, but she relents and gives Bhagat the seven golden rings left from her wedding necklace, reminding him that he is both a fine singer and a fine thinker.
Once in the city, Bhagat learns that he must give up his mother’s seven golden rings to spend seven night in a small inn. Bhagat thinks about this and devises a clever plan to separate the rings into a single ring, a chain of two, and a chain of four so that he never pays more than one ring for each night. When the day arrives for him to finally audition, Bhagat does not make the royal troupe. He is devastated, but the inn keeper’s wife has watched him for seven days, and she tells the Rajah that this boy is a thinker, and just the person to run the Rajah’s estates.
Many of my third graders picked up on the musical references in the story. After reading, it was fun to watch them recreate Bhagat’s seven-day payment. The author’s note includes an explanation of how each of Bhagat’s chains represent a binary digit. Older students might enjoy taking on bigger challenges and modeling larger numbers in the binary system.
Be it math, music, or just a merry tale, Rajani LaRocca and illustrator Archana Sreenivasan have created a gem of a picture book. Make it one you share with your students in 2021.
Cheers to better days ahead in the new year!