Polar Bear Math

Learning about Fractions from

Klondike and Snow



Polar Bear Math book cover

By Ann Nagda and Cindy Bickel


Early one morning at the Denver Zoo, a polar bear gives birth to two tiny babies, then abandons them.


The zoo staff must raise the babies, but there are many things they don't know. What foods are best? How much should the cubs eat? Once they figure out the answers, the cubs quickly become healthy, happy young bears.


Young readers follow Klondike and Snow as they grow from fragile newborns to large, lively bears, and along the way they'll learn about fractions.


Cindy Bickel has worked at the Denver Zoo for over thirty years.  During her career, she has hand raised hundreds of babies for the zoo, using math every day in her job as a veterinary assistant.

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co., 2004



"Bickel, a veterinary assistant at the Denver Zoo, and Nagda team up again for some animal math in this charming account of two abandoned polar bear cubs. . . Terrific photos of the bears, from helpless newborns to active adults, illustrate the bear narrative."

--Kirkus Reveiws

"One of the strengths of the book is that is shows the use of fractions in an authentic context. It also illustrates a woman in a prominent role of a problem solver. A third benefit is that it reflects a realistic view of science: the workers at the zoo must adjust the milk formula several times in order to meet the nutritional needs of each cub. . . Overall, the book is an important nonfiction resource for the elementary classroom."

--David Whitin, Teaching Children Mathematics

"Right-hand pages tell the story of Klondike and Snow, with excellent, full-color photos showing how zoo personnel raised them from newborns until their first birthday. On each left-hand page, a lesson on fractions incorporates data about the animals. The explanations, which combine text with pictographs, are clear and well formulated. . . This thoroughly enjoyable offering has many worthwhile features, and teachers and children alike can make good use of it."

--School Library Journal


Awards and Honors

A Junior Library Guild Selection