Tag Archives: math

I’m useless after 100 billion

hundred billionI admit it.  I have to count out zeroes to figure out billions and trillions, even in a book where they’re written in words below for me.

This does not make such a book any less cool, though, since it reminds my brain of how huge and amazing the world really is, kind of like the information in the book.  It’s perfect for lovers of numbers and math and people who like making connections between the big-ness of the world and the smallness of an individual and all of the things that tie us together.

The art is also vibrant and diverse and detailed when it needs to be and simple when that works better.  There won’t be only one of me reading it, though.  I might have to share it with a few people.

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg


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Math and science are SOOOO much fun

9781452107141_lifetime_norm_1What’s not to love in a book with appendices titled:  the animals (yes!), I love math (yippee!), and what is an average (woo hoo!)??  This book is a dream for young animal nerds.  I got stuck on the page about female red kangaroos birthing 50 joeys in a lifetime while flipping through it on break.  I had to go show my co-worker, who then noticed the page on seahorses.  We love seahorses!  And the male seahorse will carry and birth 1,000 baby seahorses!  Zounds.  (Did you see how I left out that last exclamation point?  I’m trying to be more subdued in my enthusiasm these days. Ha.)

The art is perfect for this kind of book.  You find yourself wondering if Christopher Silas Neal really drew 1,000 seahorses — probably, but I’m not sure I’m up for actually counting them.  I will leave that wonderful job to a few nerdy 8 year olds I know.  And then, THEN, you get to the bonus section where you learn how Lola Schaefer figured out the averages for these animals and how she loves math, and–THIS IS VERY EXCITING—there are even a few math problems for the reader to try.  Oh my goodness!!!

Three exclamation points later, here I am.  A fun book for kids with super art, interesting facts to learn and share, and groovy math brain work?  It makes me want to do a little research on my own and come up with my own animal math problems.  So much to do.  Work, wover and under pondork, work.  Think, think, think.  Play, play, play.  Fun, fun, fun.

(A note: this is not a new book, just new to me!  For a new book also illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, see Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner & CSN.  The Over and Under books are all wonderful looks at what happens above and below us in nature — in the dirt, in the snow, and also in the water)

Lifetime: the amazing numbers in animal lives by Lola M. Schaefer and Christopher Silas Neal


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Goodnight, 8

goodnight numbersIt’s been a few years, but I can clearly remember saying “good night” to a picture on the wall, several stuffed animals, and maybe the bookcase.  There is something comforting about the ritual of putting everyone else in your room to bed when you’re a little guy.  They’re all going to sleep, so I can do that, too!  Especially if Mr. Moo and Moose are with me.

Danica McKellar is all kinds of awesome, with her love of math and smartypants rhyming.  It’s kind of a ridiculous concept, really, saying good night to numbers, but do I care?  No, I do not.  Mr. Moo would 100% approve, especially because 8, a favorite number of many in my acquaintance –that would be me, when I was little—has both an octopus and a stop sign.  The illustrations by Alicia Padrón are on the warm and fuzzy and calming sides of things, sending us skating along the rhyming floors in our footie pajamas, straight into dreamland.

Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar and Alicia Padrón

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Women in science and math – a few favorites


I happened to notice that Hidden Figures, a book about African-American women mathematicians, will be available in a youth edition soon.  (I’m on the list for it when it comes into the library already – woo hoo!)  That got me thinking about all the great books about women in science I’ve come across lately.  So, today I offer a short list of recent goodies:

 Finding Wonders:  Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins.  Maria Merian, Mary Anning, and Maria Mitchell had a few things in common – they loved science and they lived in times which didn’t accept women as scientists.  This novel in verse imagines their lives and research.  It’s very accessible and would be a new way to get younger readers thinking about the wonders they see in their own lives and the extent to which they’d be willing to fight for the right to investigate them.  What matters enough?  When do you stand up for yourself, even if it’s uncomfortable?  Do others still face these challenges now?  So much to think about…

I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer & Christopher Eliopoulos.  This one’s part of the “Ordinary People Change the World series, and it’s a keeper.  It’s a sort of picture book-graphic novel blend, and it really shows how the kid who hid in the hay to observe chickens became the woman who studied chimpanzees and taught us so much about animal relationships.  This one was so fun that I’ll be adding the others in the series to my TBR pile.

Ada Lovelace:  Poet of Science by Diane Stanley and Jessie Hartland.  I mentioned this one in an earlier post.  When I checked it out again to show to a friend, I reread it.  Still great!

Trailblazers:  33 Women in Science Who Changed the World by Rachel Swaby.  You’ll find Ada Lovelace, Maria Mitchell and Mary Anning in this one, along with thirty other amazing women – some well-known and others not so much.  Their biographies are short but very readable, and a nice way to find out about someone you might want to learn even more about!

Rad Women Worldwide and Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz.  These books cover everyone from political leaders to athletes and singers, but some of the noted women are scientists, mathematicians, and environmental activists.  Like the Trailblazers, these biographies are quick bites, not in-depth, but they’re perfect for kids looking for report subjects (they can research them more through other sources) and adults who are looking for shorter pieces to read on a commute, while waiting at a doctor’s office, eating lunch or whatever.

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs & Sophia Foster-Dimino.  This one’s super sassy and full of unexpected fun.  Annie Smith Peck was both a suffragist and a mountaineer.  Brita Tott was a spy and forger. Jacqueline Felice De Almania was a physician.  Again, it’s all in quick bites, but when you think about women from what seems like long ago doing all these amazing things…. well, the future looks a little brighter.

So much to learn!  So much to uncover!  So much fun!



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Smartypants biographies with zing

You might not guess this from all the reading I supposedly do, but I have an extremely short attention span.  One of my former co-workers used to joke about how easily distracted I was by “shiny objects”.  We could be talking about some huge problem we were trying to solve, and suddenly my mind would make a connection to something about women’s history or a book I’d read a few weeks before.  Often the connection was not an especially clear one.  And there were not usually shiny things around.  Still, you get the idea.  I can be a little scattered.

As time has gone on, this has only gotten worse.  Not only do I live with two people who are constantly making references to movies, tv shows and music, but there’s all the technology.  Between the smart phones and iPads and Google Maps, getting through any adult nonfiction is pretty hard, and even middle grade books longer than 200 pages sometimes look overwhelming.

But lately, thanks to the Common Core movement, there have been a heap of new nonfiction picture books.  (I know many people loathe the Common Core, but hey—here’s one good thing about it!) These are perfect for me–pictures to look at, sometimes really amazing art, facts about people I either don’t know or don’t know much about, appendices with extra information, HOORAY!  I think every nerdy kid and adult should just make a pile of these and then sit and enjoy.  It’s hard to be distracted from this amazing stuff, whether it’s technical drawings or Matisse’s cutouts or art about the art of photography.

If you’re so inclined, the following three are especially good ones:

Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature by Cindy Jensen-Elliot and Christy Hale.  You might wonder why you even need illustrations if you’re doing a book about Ansel Adams, but these take the story of his life to a whole different level.  It’s also a wonderful reminder of how we don’t all fit within the same educational boxes, and when someone special is set free to do what they need to do, the results can be amazing.

Mr. Matisse and His Cutouts by Annemarie van Haeringen.  Again, it seems like with Matisse’s art, you wouldn’t need much else to make a book pop.  But the way Matisse’s color and imagination exploded is so wonderfully displayed here!   I love the idea of Matisse in a wheelchair flying along, scissors reaching to the sky.  Ha!

Ada Lovelace:  Poet of Science by Diane Stanley and Jessie Hartland.  You had me at hello with that title, people.  Poetry and science AND math together!  Whew!  There’s so much good information in this book, too.  It deals with the reality of Ada Lovelace’s daily life at a time when women were kept out of scientific inquiries, but it also somehow expresses the sheer joy she found in learning new things and figuring stuff out.

So these are on my stack.  Find your own.  Learn a little.  Look a little.  Capture your quiet spot.  Make a pile.  And read, my friends.  Just read.

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