Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shaping Up! Shaping Up Summer by Lizann Flatt

What if nature knew numbers like you?

If you were near,
this fact would appear:
the Sun is actually
the shape of a SPHERE.

But the Sun is so far
from where we all are
that we see it as a CIRCLE

(Did you know that it's a star?)

Author Lizann Flatt's last book in her seasonal Math in Nature series, Shaping Up Summer (Math in Nature) (Owlkids Books, 2014), beguiles the child into seeing the shapes, symmetry, and trajectories of summer plants and animals.

In one eye-pleasing double-page spread devoted to the concept of symmetry, she shows a spotted newt twisting and curling to climb a log  and one lying out flat and asks, "Which newt is symmetrical?" Children are encouraged to spot other symmetries--a ladybug's carapace, a painted turtle, a swimming fish seen from above,  a dragonfly and water spider, and a floating water lily bloom.  The water lily offers both symmetry and asymmetry, depending on how the eye sees it.

In another spread, a hummingbird moth, grasshopper, and katydid make their ways across the page, and the child is asked to trace their path, over, under, above, and below the plants which tempt them.

Plane figures and solid figures abound as well in Ashley Barron's ebullient cut-paper collages in a summertime display of colors, from warm sunny yellows and blooming pinks to cool blues and deep-shaded greens. Barron's artwork gives this one its visual pizazz and movement as it encourages the child to look more closely at each illustration. Author Flatt seems to assume that children have already encountered the simple mathematical concepts she discusses and instead proffers enticing opportunities for reinforcement of these skills. Humorous touches include ghost crabs improbably sculpting cones. pyramids, and cylinders out of seaside sand and an orb spider spinning out a couple of steamships setting sail in her web. The author includes an appended Nature Notes with thumbnail sketches and information about featured animals--dolphins, coyotes, skunks, puffins--for a bit of nature study as well.

Best for adult-and-child sharing, Shaping Up Summer (Math in Nature) concludes the cycle in Flatt and Barron's four-seasons series, which also include Counting on Fall (Math in Nature), Sizing Up Winter (Math in Nature), and Sorting Through Spring (Math in Nature). (read my reviews here).

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