Review of Seven Golden Rings, by Rajani LaRocca, illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan

Seven Golden Rings

A Tale of Music and Math

by Rajani LaRocca
illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan

Lee & Low Books, 2020. 40 pages.
Review written February 6, 2021, from a library book
Starred Review
2021 Mathical Book Prize Winner, ages 8-10

I recently did a class about books for all ages that include fun math ideas, and discovered this book a day too late to include it, but this is a fun story that tells about the binary number system in a clever way.

In ancient India, Bhagat is going to the capital to audition for the royal troupe, but all he has for the journey is one rupee and a chain of seven golden rings, the last of his mother’s wedding necklace.

He finds a place to stay in the capital city, and they will charge him one gold ring for a night’s stay. Bhagat doesn’t know how many days it will take him to be called to audition for the king. He doesn’t want to pay all seven rings if he gets called sooner.

Then he finds a goldsmith who will break a ring for him to separate it from the chain – but he will charge one rupee to break one link, and Bhagat only has one rupee.

The clever solution is that he has the goldsmith break the third link in the chain. Then that ring is separate, and he’s left with two chains, one with two links and the other with four. He is able to get the exact amount owed each day from one to seven days.

There’s an unexpected end to the story, and then an Author’s note explaining the binary number system and how it relates to the story.

I love this simple and visual approach to teaching binary! The story that goes with it will make it all the more memorable, and I love that the author set up a situation where this idea really did solve a problem.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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