Posts Tagged ‘mathematics’
Posted in non-fiction, picture books, poetry, tagged Ada Byron Lovelace, biography, book reviews, children's literature, civil rights, computer programming, Cuba, Florence Nightingale, holocaust, Jane Goodall, langston hughes, mathematics, music, native americans, nursing, Paiute, picture books, poetry, Tanzania, women's history month, WWII on March 16, 2016| 3 Comments »
This is the story of a boy who loved math.
Not just loved math. Lived math. Lived for math.
His name was Paul Erdös and he became one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived.
Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1913, Paul marched to his own drumbeat from the get-go. He hated rules, but loved numbers. His genius shone through in the complex mental math calculations and explorations he relished at a very young age. In particular, Paul was fascinated by prime numbers. School — not so much.
Paul was certainly an uncommon fellow, world-famous for his math by the time he was a young man, but unable to butter his bread! His mind was continually absorbed in the elegance of mathematics. Despite his quirky ways, he was generous with his knowledge and his money. He was a kindhearted man who had such a way with people, that folks around the world love him still. Uncle Paul, they call him, and describe their relationship with him by an extraordinary, unique numbering system.
I am flabbergasted at how much enthusiasm Deborah Heiligman was able to channel through her work about this unusual, wonderful, singleminded genius. I am not a Girl Who Loves Math, so just the title of this book gave me second thoughts about opening it up. That was the last of my hesitations, however, because Deborah caught me up on page one and carried me into an acquaintance with Paul and his beloved numbers so that I was spellbound. Her lengthy Author’s Note is a beautifully-written addition to the book which you should definitely not miss.
Next, LeUyen Pham’s illustrations are not only supremely accessible, welcoming, engaging, but you simply cannot believe how much math she has packed into the pages. Stunning, really. If you just glance at them, you will notice digits and patterns and equations, but if you read her detailed explanations of what she has placed in these pieces you will be blown away. Math-lovers will be tickled pink, actually.
The book is suitable for ages 6 and up. I hope it is especially meaningful for those children whose unique minds set them apart from the pack. Adults who gravitate towards math will appreciate this just as much. New in 2013.
P.S. For a look at the incredible Ms. Pham’s seriously-delightful web site, head on over to LeUyen Pham Illustration
Noah’s ark was measured in cubits, while Captain Nemo traveled 20,000 leagues under the sea.
Diamonds are sold in carats, while Lizzy Bennet looks forward to balls taking place in a fortnight.
While the metric system is all tidy and orderly, the English system we still use is a colorful jumble of asymmetrical terms whose origins are unknown to most of us.
Ken Robbins sheds a wondrous light on all manner of these common and old-fashioned measurements in this fascinating book, accessible to mid-elementary children, yet highly interesting for adults as well.
Without getting bogged down in the details, Robbins gives us a short and sweet explanation, usually for just one measurement per page, accompanied by a helpful photo. Along with a photograph of an open hand, for example, he explains that a span is 8 inches, which comes from the average distance from the tip of our thumb to the end of our pinky finger.
Robbins also includes interesting offshoots of some measurements, such as explaining what we mean when we say we can’t fathom something, as he discusses what a fathom is, that will make the lights turn on for you and your kids. The ancient origins of these terms are so intriguing!
Eye-catching photography, plenty of white space in the layouts which creates an inviting look to this mathematical subject, a great variety of measuring terms, and excellent writing which never talks down — this is a gem of a book on an unusual topic.
If you follow Washington Boulevard past the smoky good smells of Willy Q’s Barbecue, past the Style R Us hair salon, where they do nails like nobody’s business, past the eye-popping red doors of the Sanctuary Baptist Church, you’ll finally come to a dead end.
That’s where our school sits. Right at the dead end of Washington Boulevard. We know there’s a lot of people out there who think our school is a dead end. And that all the kids inside it are dead ends, too. They drive past our school, roll up their windows, and lock their doors. Let’s get out of this bad neighborhood, they say. Fast.
But they’ve got it all wrong. Because inside our crumbling, peeling-paint, broken-window school, we are gonna build something big. Something that will make all of them sit up and take notice…Something that hasn’t been built in the history of the world. By anybody. Just you wait and see.
Washington Middle School stands in an inner city neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, and there Mr. Collins teaches seventh grade math. Or, he tries to. Actually, it is clear to Mr. Collins that almost none of his students is even listening to him, and finally, he’s had about enough. With an uncharacteristic outburst of frustration that surprises and amuses his class, Mr. Collins begins asking the troubled and trouble-making students what it would take for them to enjoy being there.
A contest, one boy answers. And that’s how it all begins.
Within days, an unlikely combination of students, led by an ill-prepared Mr. Collins, forms a sort of math club with one goal: to build the world’s largest tetrahedron and make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Nothing about this operation goes smoothly. Conflicts between students, bad attitudes, opposition from parents, seem to doom it from the start. When Mr. Collins appoints James — Mr. Uncooperative himself — as club president, it seems like the final blow. But surprising changes begin to take place. Good ideas and increased energy slowly grow and unusual friendships form as the massive tetrahedron itself takes shape.
Then, wham! Disaster strikes. And their shattered dream threatens to drain all hope in both students and teacher.
Shelley Pearsall’s novel is fast-paced and highly-engaging, with a number of well-drawn characters we quickly come to care about. These students do not live tidy or predictable lives. While two of them contend with death, gangs, neglect, and foster care, two others have households with a strong, caring parent. The novel is written from many points of view, and though the voices aren’t dramatically different, the variety of life stories creates a nice balance of wit, poignancy, suspense, and substance. Without being simplistic, the book concludes on a note of hope.
A running thread about Willy Q’s Barbeque provides the author with opportunities to include recipes for some delicious barbecue sauces, cornbread and chocolate cake — a fun addition. There’s also a tetrahedron pattern included so you can build your own monster structure, and an Author’s Note describing the real contests in various schools that inspired her to write the book.
Based on a true incident in Cleveland, I found this to be a compelling read, probably best for ages 10-14, and I’m looking forward to reading more of Pearsall’s books.
Here’s an Amazon link: All of the Above
Posted in fiction, non-fiction, picture books, wordless books, tagged animal 1 2 3, counting books, infinity and me, math concepts for children, mathematics, more fewer less, one grain of rice, wumbers on March 4, 2013| 1 Comment »
What do you get if you mix numbers with words? You get a jolly, clever, decoding game for early elementary on up.
This book is loaded with page after page of juicy sentences — or should I say sen10ces — like that for you and your kids to puzzle out. So much fun!
Tom Lichetenheld’s bright, bold, cartoon-style illustrations fill the book with a ton of pizzazz as well as giving us helpful hints to the sentence meanings. Delightfully, the jacket blurbs, endpapers, title page, dedication…are all formatted (that’s “4matted”) in this crazy new alpha-number-bet. Gr8 fun 4 all!! Check it out!
Looking at the stars in the huge night sky, Uma wonders how many there could possibly be. Millions? Billions? Could there be an infinite number of stars? And how big is infinity?
Uma begins trying to wrap her mind around the concept of infinity. She asks her friends how they imagine it. Numbers that grow forever, a figure eight racetrack that you drive around and around and never come to the end of — these are some ideas. Yet thinking about how long forever is, thinking about endlessness, are such big ideas they make Uma’s head hurt, and make her feel very small. Each person she asks has a new angle of considering infinity, something so far, so beyond our grasp, so tantalizing, Uma realizes even her questions about infinity are infinite. In the end, though, when she rests in the love she shares with her Grandma — at once such an infinitely big love, yet so tangible — Uma’s searching mind is filled with happiness and peace.
I am so impressed that Kate Hosford has tackled this really difficult, thought-provoking topic, one which young children do indeed grapple with and which we adults are not really much better equipped to understand. It’s written for ages 5-8, I’d say, and provides a great starting point for some really interesting discussions. An Author’s Note addressed to parent/readers, tells how Hosford polled a number of children to gather their thoughts on infinity. Incredibly interesting.
If you were handed a book on infinity to illustrate, how would you do it? Gabi Swiatkowska’s mixed media illustrations are fanciful, yet anchored in child-friendly, very human elements. I love how Uma’s wide, wondering eyes, as well as others’ faces and eyes, are what draw my attention on almost every page. Both the human factor and the imaginative features of her illustrations help pull the book’s profound ideas and questions right into the world of a young child very effectively.
Here’s a clever, cheery, Crayola-bright counting book for the tiniest squirts, just dipping their toes into book-land.
Let me try to explain the brilliant concept Britta Teckentrup has used in this new (2012) book.
The first, aqua-blue, double-page spread shows one curling, twisting snake, persimmon and chocolate segments marching along his long body, a pleasant smile on his very-not-scary face. On the right side of the page is a large, goldenrod number 1. “1 wriggly snake” it says. This number, though, is a flap to open, and when you do the whole scene extends and morphs. We discover that actually, there are two snakes — one of them was just hidden by the flap; his tail looked like it belonged to that first snake. Now the page is labeled: “2 wriggly snakes.”
Next up are “2 marching elephants.” There’s a big mama elephant, with junior walking behind her, grasping her tail with his trunk. The large red “2” is, happily, another flap, and when it opens, there’s an even smaller baby joining the parade to make “3 marching elephants.”
Radiating color, featuring beautifully designed animals and those extremely clever flaps that transpose the scene — so exciting to open them and find one more creature hiding there — this book will be a giant hit with very young children. Meanwhile, learning the numbers through 10, counting the animals on each page, and finding out what one more makes, are all foundational math concepts children will absorb without anyone making a fuss about it.
Printed on sturdy card stock to hold up to many, many page turnings, with a heavy-duty cover that sticky fingers can’t harm, this book by an illustrator from Berlin is a gem for ages 1 and up.
Once upon a time, in India, there lived a foolish raja. He thought of himself as wise and just, but honestly — he was quite self-centered.
The raja decrees that each year, his people, who are rice farmers, must give him the vast bulk of their rice crop — for safekeeping, in case of famine, so he says. But when famine comes to the land, the raja keeps the rice for himself.
In the midst of these dark days, a young girl named Rani happens upon a few grains of rice and hatches a very clever plan. Offering the rice back to the raja, she is rewarded by him. Any wish she has, he will grant. Rani asks for a single grain of rice, adding, since the raja wishes to be more generous, that for each of the next 30 days, he should double the quantity of rice given on the previous day.
This seems to the raja like a curiously skimpy wish, yet he agrees.
From one grain, to two, and then four, Rani is presented each day with double her previous gift. The effect of this exponential increase, of course, soon leads to gargantuan quanitities of rice. What will she do with it all? And what effect does this have on the foolish raja?
Demi tells this exciting, satisfying tale pleasantly, and illustrates it in gorgeous, Oriental splendor. Golden accents, ornate robes, Indian architecture, and a bevy of exotic animals grace these pages. You can almost smell the curry and incense! As the loads of rice increase, the herds of animals carrying the sacks grow larger and larger, filling the pages so much that fold-outs are required to cram all 256 elephants, plodding their way to Rani with their burden of rice.
A chart at the book’s end shows the number progression, encouraging readers to add up all 30 numbers and discover the grand total of rice Rani receives. A remarkable glimpse at the magic of multiplication for ages 6 and up.
Tana Hoban was an amazing photographer who gave us so many wonderful books, tapping into children’s inborn sense of curiosity, wonder, and unique perspectives, respecting their keen minds completely. She showed us the world of possibilities everywhere we look, how much there is to see, how many ideas lie in the most ordinary scenes. I loved looking at her books together with my children when they were young, and the older I get, the more I am impressed by her work.
This particular book explores ideas of quanitity. Each photograph invites us to look, to notice where there are more, or fewer. Each photo allows for different angles on the subject, according to what grabs the viewer’s attention. There are no words or prompting questions — all of this is left up to the child. There are more chickens inside the coop than outside, one child might observe. Another might see that there are far more white chickens than speckled. Still another might notice the dried corn cobs on the ground and wonder if there are more of them inside the coop, even though we can’t see them. One may simply wonder about their tomato-red combs and wattles.
These quiet moments of observation, of intently looking, of talking about something interesting, or moving on to a photograph they find more compelling, are incredibly rich brain food. I feel deeply sad for the frenetic pace and level of “noise” our children experience currently, depriving them of leisurely opportunities to think for themselves, to imagine, to wonder, to chat with an unhurried adult.
Pick up a Tana Hoban book, settle in with a child, and learn the art of looking, together.
Here are Amazon links for these titles you can count on enjoying:
Posted in fiction, non-fiction, picture books, tagged blockhead: the life of fibonacci, how much is a million, just a second: a different way to look at time, leonardo fibonacci, mathematics, perfect square, this plus that: life's little equations on March 5, 2012| Leave a Comment »
Introducing an extremely clever book that imagines what happens when you put two and two together. We all know what happens when you put red and blue together, for instance: purple happens.
There are dozens of delightful equations here, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing colorful ingredients from popsicles to ocean waves, cozy feelings to eye rolling insincerity, each with an ingenuous result. These equations are not only a treat to read, they also stimulate more clever, original possibilities. You could say: this book + eager listeners = sparks of imagination!
Jen Corace has illustrated this crazy new math in charming, cheerful, energetic scenes, using a palette of gorgeous natural greens, golds, bittersweets and the occasional burst of pink. All of these vignettes pop on the bright white backgrounds with the equations spelled out in friendly black type. The page lay-outs are genius.
New in 2011, this book gets two thumbs up from my household, and I bet it will please people from 5-100.
In the time it takes you to snap your fingers, a whole lot can happen. Did you know for example, that in one second, a bumblebee beats its wings 200 times!? Or — and this is very scary — a black mamba slithers 24 feet!!?!
A minute can feel long when you’re waiting on a green light, or very short when you’re racing to the train platform. What takes place in a minute? A skydiver in a free fall plunges two miles. (No thank you.) A child’s heart beats about 100 times, while a hamster’s ticks about 450 wee beats.
Time is a fascinating concept, and the information presented in this book will blow open the doors of your mind as you consider its possibilities. The many amazing fact-bits about what takes place in a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year…are incredibly rich mind-food to pore over. Steve Jenkins is a brilliant author/artist whose angles of looking at the world around us inspire amazement, and whose bold, intricate, paper collages are simply stunning.
Interesting, very-brief, explanations about the inventions of our time units are included, as well as clever graphic charts displaying various life spans, human population growth, and a timeline for the universe. Great “can you believe it?!” book for ages 8 and up; perfect for reluctant readers.
Long ago, in the Italian city of Pisa, a mathematician lived whom we call Leonardo Fibonacci. He was…brilliant.
Fibonacci fell in love with numbers and patterns early in life. He counted everything, solved math problems at lightning speed, observed numerical patterns in nature, invented story problems — and received, in return…ridicule.
When he grew up, Fibonacci traveled the known world, learning from each culture their particular mathematical insights, including a strange new system of writing numerals used by Arab merchants, which they, in turn, had picked up from the Hindu people of India. Struck by the advantages of this number system, Fibonacci urged his peers to adopt it, and received, again…ridicule. Along the way, Fibonacci invented a story problem involving the multiplication of rabbits, whose solution led to the discovery of a numerical sequence, repeatedly found in nature. The Fibonacci sequence, as it is now known, can be found everywhere from the pearly spirals of a seashell to the unfathomable sweep of a galaxy.
This fabulous biography of Fibonacci leads us to appreciate the man called a blockhead by his neighbors, and introduces us to the idea that math is built into the world around us, from nature, to architecture, to music. John O’Brien’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations ingenuously incorporate the spirals and geometric shapes Fibonacci loved, in gem-toned, vibrant, clever pictures. An Author’s Note and a list of ways to explore Fibonacci numbers in the book’s illustrations and in some common items around you, complete the book. Great read for early elementary and up.
Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician is here to help you comprehend how big those really-really big numbers are! If a million kids climbed onto one another’s shoulders, how high would that tower be? (Hint: Really really high.) Or, if you wanted to count to a million, how long would it take? Take a look in this book, and you will find out. A bowl big enough for a million goldfish? A book holding a million teeny-tiny stars? You will be flabbergasted to discover just how much a million is!
If a million isn’t big enough for you, try a billion…and a trillion. A trillion kids in a tower, a trillion stars lined up on pages. The jumps between these numbers are…astronomical!
Numbers beyond comprehension are compared and explored by Schwartz in this book with jammed with friendliness, and short on words. The brilliant Steven Kellogg has animated and illustrated this wizardry with his characteristically comfy, happy, cartoon-style drawings. He pours gallons of life and energy into each colorful scene. A lengthy, intriguing note from the author explains, for older readers, how he calculated each of his facts. The main story can be enjoyed by kindergartners and up. Written in 1985, this has become a classic.
Start with a square. Four equal sides. Four right angles. Perfect. And happy.
What happens, though, when that geometrical perfection is cut up, torn, shredded, or crinkled?
Not to worry! Those scraps and pieces can be rearranged to form many delightful objects, from babbling fountains to handsome arched bridges.
This simple story line from an award-winning graphic designer, vibrantly, magically, brilliantly, transforms one perfect square into seven clever images — one for each day of the week. Each day, the square is a different, gloriously bright hue, a textured combination of goldenrod yellows, first-leaves-of-the-spring greens, Caribbean-sea blues, which is torn and trimmed into pieces on one page, then, with a turn of the page, reassembled into a satisfying new image.
It’s a highly imaginative, artistic book that will entrance preschoolers, and entice them to produce their own torn-paper artwork for the fridge. Lovely.
Here are Amazon links for these books you can count on to stretch your minds and imaginations: