We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
Jane Brocket’s clever concept book about patterns is an exceptionally bright, bold, and colourful one, full of vibrant photographs that demonstrate what patterns are, how they are formed and how they help us to decorate, plan, and predict.
Creative use has been made of familiar items like flowers, vegetables, sweets and socks, before moving through to the more complex patterning details of quilts, tiles, building facades and even shadows.
This title will have children looking around their environment for patterns, and wanting to create their own.
Professor Cook’s dynamite dinners by Lorna Brash is one of a series that uses fun delicious recipes and zany humour to explore the science concepts that happen as food is transformed into something edible.
Each double page spread is a brightly coloured mix of photographs and text boxes showing the recipe, step by step instructions, and the associated science idea. The variety of dinners include Sticky chicky burger stacks, incredible edible bowl soup, tongue-tingling sweet and sour noodles, thirsty couscous cakes and scrambly egg fried rice, plus more. Each title has a glossary, an index, and a list of useful websites to explore further.
Other titles in this series are: Dynamite dinners; Smashing snacks; Mind-blowing bakes; and Fascinating fruits.
review by Karen
Image by photoholic1
The double-spread title page of this book opens up to a large coloured drawing of an owl’s face immediately capturing the readers attention and dramatically demonstrating what symmetry is all about.
The first pages have pictures of objects in nature as well as man-made leading to the question, `so what is symmetry?’. All the different types of symmetry are then described with extensive pictures of animals, human bodies, clothing, letters, words, furniture, and buildings to help explain and reinforce the concepts.
Finally there are further notes, some symmetry activities, a glossary, and an explanation of why symmetry is an important math concept.
image by AdamAtom
I enjoyed browsing through How things work in the house by Lisa Campbell Ernst the wonderful eclectic range of items this author has chosen to portray will keep junior primary aged children turning the pages, and possibly a few adults too.
Amongst the common items are the familiar technology tools like taps, spoons, straws, and crayons. Then various toys and musical instruments are included. The more unusual additions are pets: a cat, dog, and goldfish. Food is not forgotten either with details on popcorn, bananas, and what makes a sandwich.
With a mix of single and double page spreads, each topic is laid out with a labelled picture and titbits of information all complimented by the papercut collage illustrations and easy to understand language.
reviews by Karen
Using a narrative non-fiction style with eye-catching illustrations of a haunted house and its occupants the author presents a beginners guide to algebra.
Starting with simple equations Billy and Mandy, with the help of bats, owls, ravens, cats, and skeletons, learn to find the mystery or unknown number using their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. The book finishes with a project to make a balance scale demonstrating the principles of an equation.
Here is a simple, delightful introduction that will encourage children to understand that solving mysteries can be fun, and algebra can help you solve math mysteries.
image by Evelyn Saenz
review by Karen
This title is one of four in a series called Build it yourself, designed to have children creating and building a variety of projects that include: cars, forts, periscopes, flashlights, mini golf courses, and lemonade stands.
In Build your own car, rocket, and other things that go, you can make, besides the mousetrap car, a helicopter launcher, paddle wheel boat, water blaster rocket, foam flyer, and race car.
Each book begins with a list of tools, and tips for safety. All the projects are well laid out with step-by-step instructions, full-colour photographs, and include an estimated build time.
review by Karen
image by atduskgreg
Manga is the Japanese word for comics and print cartoons. In their modern form, manga date from the 1950s, but have a long, complex history in earlier Japanese art. In Japan, manga are widely read by people of all ages, include a broad range of subjects and have steadily become an important part of the Japanese publishing industry.
Until recently my experience with manga has been in the realms of fiction, and rather superficial. Now I am discovering a whole new series that would have made a considerable difference to my secondary maths and science results!
No Starch Press based in San Francisco, have a growing list of Manga guides written to demystify areas of maths (including calculus, linear algebra and statistics) and science (including electricity, molecular biology, biochemistry and physics). Each book has an amusing storyline based on a character who is struggling to understand basic but tough maths or science concepts, and who is helped by a teacher or mentor figure.
These books are educational but also quirky, painless and practical, and would work both as an introduction to these areas of knowledge or to provide a useful refresher. And isn’t it a sign of the times that Nostarch Press are offering a free ebook with each print purchase?
review by Jan
image by blankdots
Attractively laid out with stunning action photographs, Xtreme is one of a series that shows practical application of math skills in a cool, exciting way.
Each of the titles has sports facts, statistics, puzzles, and activities that cover most areas of the maths curriculum. Able students will have fun, while these books will be a welcome addition for those who are struggling, or reluctant readers.
Other titles in the Top score sports stars and stats series are Ace; Goal; Pole position; Scrum; and Slam dunk.
review by Karen
image by Alex Abian
Here's a great maths series sepecifically designed around the concept of measurement and suitable for primary school students. In this book distance, area and volume are covered separately, and when discussed units are given in metric followed by imperial units in brackets. Both the metric and imperial systems are covered for all three types of measurement, and handy conversion tables given.
The illustrations and tables are well laid out and clearly labelled. There are five titles in the ‘Measure it!’ series. The other four are; ‘Mass and Weight’, ‘Speed and Acceleration’, ‘Temperature’, and ‘Time’.
Reviewed by Heather
Flickr image by quinn.anya
Time is one of the first books published in the ‘My Path to Math’ series and looks in detail at clocks, parts of the day, and calendars. The large print and big colourful pictures make this book suitable to share with a group of children. The simple text includes questions for the children to answer and activities to try. Words in bold print are explained in a glossary.
Crabtree began publishing the junior primary series ‘My Path to Math’ in 2009 with eight titles. Around 15 titles have been published in 2010 and more again are due out in 2011. The series covers quite a range of maths topics, some quite hard to come by in this type of format and fro this age range. Other titles in the series include; Position and Direction, Slides Flips and Turns (topic of transformations), Symmetry’ Metric System and Probability.
Reviewed by Heather.
Flickr image by Leo Reynolds
The cat, along with Mr and Mrs Hilbert, live on another planet far away in the Hotel Infinity. The numbers live there too and the hotel is full. They all live happily until more visitors arrive. First Zero, then the Alphabet, and then the Fractions. They need beds for the night - but how are they all going to fit in? Zero has the answers, but the poor cat lies awake at night trying to work out how he did it.
Is it a maths book that uses a narrative to explain concepts, or a narrative that uses mathematics in the story? Simply written with black and white line drawings, The Cat in Numberland is a quick fun read about a complex topic.
Series 'Get a Pet"
If your classroom topic is Pets, and you are teaching junior primary children, this book is worth considering. It can be read aloud as a story, but it also contains factual information for an investigation on pets.
Victor is getting a new cat. The story covers how he chooses the cat, how he helps it settle in, and how he looks after it, including information about ongoing care like feeding, grooming, litter boxes and sick cats. These are in tip boxes on most pages. Illustrations are mixed media drawings.
The book has a table of contents, and at the back of the book there is a labelled diagram of a cat, an extremely brief life cycle, a glossary and an index. Instead of a list of web addresses that rapidly become obsolete, there is onewebsite - http://www.facthound.com/for an updated web portal associated with the parent publishing company, Capstone books.
Other pets in the series are goldfish, guinea pig, bird, dog and hamster.
Flickr image by doug88888
I am just reading Alex's Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos, Bloomsbury 2010, subtitled Dispatches from the wonderful world of mathematics, and finding it fascinating - sort of like Bill Bryson's writing in The short history of nearly everything… full of information, explanation and enthusiasm, with an eye for quirky detail, interesting characters and humorous turn of phrase…
Here is a link to Alex Bellos' website http://alexbellos.com/ - lots of interesting info - even for a non-mathematician like myself - check out his August post about the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) 2010, which has been taking place in Hyderabad, India.
Here is a review of Alex's book by David Bodanis, author of E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation, in The Guardian
One for the secondary school library and to tell maths teachers about…
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