Do Weasels Count the Weeks? Sizing Up Winter by Lizann Flatt
WHEN WINTER WINDS BLOW,
COLD ICE CRYSTALS GROW.
HIGH IN THE CLOUDS,
IS THERE ONE SIZE FOR SNOW?
Lizann Flatt's third book in her series, Sizing Up Winter (Math in Nature) (OwlKids Books, 2013), takes an open-ended look at the concept of measurement in a wintry setting. How far does a snowflakes fall?
It depends--on where it starts and where it ends!
There are plenty of regular counting activities in this imaginative look at winter in snowy climes: how many otters in two different lakes, how many hops does it take a snowshoe hare and a deer mouse to cover the same area, and how many days does it take a weasel to go from wintry white to warm weather brown? Other numerical skills have their moments: estimation (Which has more mass, the mama polar bear or her twin babies?) and comparison (Which frog is the fattest?). But the author also dips into the concept of relativity in scale, using one chickadee or one cardinal as units of measurement:
HOW MANY BIRDS LONG IS EACH FEEDER?
One curious double-page spread shows the typical musk oxen protective circle as conceived as a clock face and asks what time it is by the ox clock, an intriguingly open-ended question.
And one spread points to the difference between man-made objective measurements and subjective measurements:
SO HOW LONG IS WINTER, AND HOW DO YOU KNOW?
IS IT WINTER AS LONG AS IT'S COLD AND THERE'S SNOW?
WHEN WILL WINTER BE OVER? WHAT DAY WILL IT GO?
Is it still winter if it snows in May? Or June? For the child whose mind enjoys calculating outside as well as inside the box, beyond the everyday rules of measurement of distance, area, capacity, mass, and time, Sizing Up Winter (Math in Nature) offers a chance to rehearse the usual counting skills while realizing that they are themselves human constructs, our agreed-upon language for appraising the natural world, necessary but not sufficient to the whole of nature. Ashley Barron's cheery cut-paper collage illustrations make this book inviting to young eyes, and the author's appended "Nature Notes" offer tantalizing thumbnail descriptions of some of the more northerly animals, such as snow fleas and snowy owls, featured in this Canadian production . It's not your father's counting book, as Kirkus Reviews suggests, saying "When read with a caring adult, this may challenge readers to look at measurement in a different way."
Other books in the Math In Nature series include Counting on Fall (Math in Nature) and Sorting Through Spring (Math in Nature) (see my reviews here).