Bookshelf: Nov/Dec 2013
How Tall, How Short, How Faraway?
by David A. Adler
illustrated by Nancy Tobin
Holiday House, 1999
The ancient Egyptians measured lengths in digits, palms, spans, and cubits, all units based on parts of the body. The ancient Romans measured distances in paces, or the length of two steps. In the U.S. we now use the customary, or inch-pound, system to measure things, while the rest of the world uses the metric system. This playful picture book offers hands-on examples to demonstrate why measuring systems need to be standardized and clearly explains the differences between various units of measure. The lively, colorful illustrations and numerous measuring activities clarify the concepts and add an element of fun.
Missing Math: A Numbers Mystery
by Loreen Leedy
Marshall Cavendish Children, 2008
What happens when all the numbers in town disappear? The town’s inhabitants--all colorfully clothed animals--can no longer count, tell time or how old they are, make phone calls, follow recipes, use money, or even play sports (what’s the point if you can’t keep score?). The town detective investigates and eventually tracks down the number thief, restoring the numbers to their proper places on street signs, scoreboards, TVs, telephones, clocks, calendars, computers, and more. Told in rhyming verse, with bright, bold artwork filled with funny, little details, this appealing story celebrates the countless ways we need numbers each and every day.
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős
by Deborah Heiligman
pictures by LeUyen Pham
Roaring Book Press, 2013
Paul Erdős loved numbers from an early age. When he was four, all he needed to know was someone’s birthday to calculate in his head how many seconds he or she had been alive. By the time he was 20, he was a world-famous mathematician nicknamed the Magician from Budapest. All he ever wanted to do was math--all the time. He never learned to cook or clean or drive a car. Realizing he didn’t fit into the world in a regular way, he invented his own way to live, traveling around the world, visiting and inspiring other mathematicians, who loved and took care of him. Superbly written and brilliantly illustrated, this thoroughly entertaining picture book vividly conveys how fascinating numbers can be. Although young children may not understand all the math concepts described in the book, they’ll recognize and appreciate young Paul’s passion and enthusiasm. And they’ll be captivated by the inventive, expressive artwork. Older kids and adults will be enchanted too and should not miss the extensive endnotes provided by both the author and artist about their creative process.
We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania
by Laurie Krebs
illustrated by Julia Cairns
Barefoot Books, 2003
In this charming picture book, 10 Maasai children count--in both English and Swahili--the animals they see as they walk through the grasslands of Tanzania. The lovely watercolor illustrations offer plenty of details to notice in addition to the animals to be counted, and the rhythmic, rhyming verse makes this a fun read-aloud. Endnotes provide interesting facts about the animals mentioned, the Maasai people, Swahili names, and Tanzania. Pronunciation guides for all the Swahili words are also included. Great for very young children just learning their numbers, but also for older readers interested in African culture and wildlife.