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G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book

G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book

by David M. Schwartz, Marissa Moss (Illustrator)
B is for Binary, F is for Fibonacci, P is for Probability... even a small sample begins to give you the idea that this is a math book unlike any other. Ranging freely from exponents to light-years to numbers found in nature, this smorgasbord of math concepts and trivia makes a perfect classroom companion or gift book for the budding young mathematician at home. Even


B is for Binary, F is for Fibonacci, P is for Probability... even a small sample begins to give you the idea that this is a math book unlike any other. Ranging freely from exponents to light-years to numbers found in nature, this smorgasbord of math concepts and trivia makes a perfect classroom companion or gift book for the budding young mathematician at home. Even the most reluctant math student will be drawn in by the author's trademark wit, Marissa Moss's quirky illustrations and funny captions, and the answers revealed in W is for " When are we ever gonna use this stuff, anyway?" Download the G is for Googol Teacher's Guide(300K)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Children's Book Council's "Not Just for Children Anymore!" 2002 selection.
1999 ALA Notable Children's Book
1999 ABC Choices Award
1999 Children's Bookseller's Choice
1998 Smithsonian Notable Book for Children

"An enchanting alphabet book that will make its audience laught out loud....A terrific title to instruct and entertain." School Library Journal, Starred Review

"An asset to anyone who wants to make science fun." – starred review Library Talk magazine

"Will appeal to curious readers . . . who like to laugh while learning." – Sacramento Bee

"A primer [that] excels at explaining the concepts that science textbooks often make incomprehensible." – San Diego Union-Tribune

“Fun, fascinating, and appealing to math mavens and math phobics alike." – Creative Classroom magazine

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Math teachers should be delighted because there just aren't that many picture books that feature math. (How Much is a Million, If You Made a Million also by Schwartz, One Grain of Rice by Demi and Math Curse by Scieszka are the ones that come immediately to mind.) The alphabet is used to provide order for a collection of mathematical words. F is for Fibonacci, who is responsible for the adoption of Arabic numerals in the Western World and also discovered the Fibonacci sequence. The book explains the sequence and its occurrence in nature. It is fascinating stuff, and once kids start exploring the book they will probably keep turning the pages. Readers can start anywhere that catches their fancy. If a concept is too difficult (and some are), just try another section and go back later after a few more math classes. There is even a glossary to help the mathematically challenged.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-An enchanting alphabet book that will make its audience laugh out loud. Beginning with "A is for Abacus" and ending with "Z is for Zillion," the author takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through important terms and concepts. The text is lively and clear and will appeal to even those who think math is as dull as the kitchen floor. Two particularly clever examples are "R is for Rhombicosidodecahedron" and "W is for `When are we ever gonna use this stuff, anyway?'" The cartoon illustrations are colorful, amusing, and informative. Young people will relate to the characters in these drawings that lend a visual dimension to the text. They will also appreciate the large, spacious pages. A terrific title to instruct and entertain.-Linda Wadleigh, Oconee County Middle School, Watkinsville, GA
Kirkus Reviews
Readers who have so far successfully resisted the math curse will find themselves deftly ensorcelled by this alphabetic tally of mathematics concepts. Between "A Is For Abacus" and "Z Is For Zillion," Schwartz (If You Made a Million, 1989, etc.) takes on binary calculations, units of measurement, exponents, observable phenomena from tessellation to Fibonacci numbers, puzzles, polygons, probability and, for W, "When are we ever gonna use this stuff, anyway?" (His answer: "At school, at home, at play, and at work. Any other questions?") Each topic gets several paragraphs of breezy, accessible discussion, illustrated with labeled, freely drawn ink-and-watercolor figures and supplemented by a large glossary. Despite a few disputesþsome say it is indeed possible to create a Klein bottleþand some too-brief definitions, this overview convinces readers that math is pervasive, inescapable, hugeþand never just egghead territory. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.85(w) x 11.31(h) x 0.40(d)
IG760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

A is for Abacus

Hundreds of years before calculators were invented, people in China discovered they could add and subtract quickly by sliding beads back and forth on strings. They put seven beads on a string and mounted a few of these strings in a wooden frame. We call the device an abacus. It was a great time-saver, and it soon spread to other parts of Asia. The Russians wanted more beads on their abacuses, so they strung ten on each string. The Japanese figured out how to add and subtract just as quickly with only five beads on each string.

Today many people in China and Japan still use abacuses. The strings represent place values (1s, 10s, 100s, etc.), and the positions of the beads along the string represent the number of 1s, 10s, or 100s being used. If you think pushing beads back and forth is slow work, think again. In contests between people using calculators and people using abacuses to add and subtract, the abacus users usually win! Some Chinese and Japanese shopkeepers don’t even need a real abacus. They just move their hands in the air, sliding imaginary beads back and forth on imaginary strings. But they still get a real answer!

B is for Binary

Suppose that instead of getting your regular allowance, you have a choice: You can have a million dollars. Or you can have a penny.

Well, not just a penny, but one cent today, two cents tomorrow, four cents the next day, eight cents the next, and so on, for 30 days. Each day, the amount will double. Which would you choose?

Let’s see how many pennies you would get each day during the first week:

1 2 4 8 16 32 64

On the seventh day, you’ll receive 64 cents. It doesn’t seem like a very good deal, does it? But this is just the first week. While the money is coming in, let’s take a close look at the numbers. When you start with 1 and double it to get 2, then double 2 to get 4, then double 4, and keep on doubling, you get a sequence of numbers called the binary sequence. The numbers are called binary numbers. There is something very important about binary numbers.

You can add binary numbers to make any other number. While 5 is not a binary number, you can make 5 by adding 4 and 1, which are binary numbers. To make 13, add 8, 4, and 1. You can make every number from 1 to 127 out of the first seven binary numbers.

On this page is a chart showing how. On the right side of the chart are decimal numbers--the regular kind you use every day. At the top of the chart are binary numbers. Find the decimal number you want to make and look to the left of it. Wherever you see a check mark, use the binary number at the top of that column. You can create 7 by adding 1, 2, and 4 (that’s why they are checked). You can make 13 by adding 8, 4, and 1. We started the chart--now you finish it. (No, you may not write in the book!)

Suppose we put a 1 wherever there’s a check mark, and a 0 wherever there isn’t a check mark. (We won’t put anything to the left of the first 1.)

What we have here is the binary system, a way of writing numbers using only 1s and 0s. In this system, the number 5 is written 101 and the number 15 is written 1111.

You’re probably wondering why anyone would want to write such long, funny-looking numbers with just 1s and 0s that take up so much room on the page. Well, the binary system isn’t meant for the page. It’s meant for the chip. The computer chip.

Computers “think” in binary. A computer chip has lots and lots of invisible electric switches called bits. A bit can be on or off. That’s all it can be. On or off, off or on. It has no brain. It has no variety. It just has on and off. Think of off as the number 0. Think of on as the number 1. Put six bits in a row, and starting at the right side, turn the first one on, turn the next one off, the next one on, the next one off, the next two on. What have you got? You’ve got the binary number 110101, or 53 in the decimal system. Just use a chart like ours to figure it out.

That’s how computers work. A computer turns everything (even letters and pictures and music) into 0s and 1s by turning some bits on and some bits off. The 1s and 0s make binary numbers.

Okay, you say. The binary system can handle small numbers like 1 and 3 and 20 and maybe 153, but it would take billions of bits to make a really big number, like 536,870,912--right? Well, no. It would take only 30 bits to make that number. If you started with 1 and doubled it, then doubled that, and kept doubling, when you got to the 30th number in the binary sequence, you’d have 100000000000000000000000000000 (a one with 29 zeros). Or in the decimal system, 536,870,912. Exactly.
Remember those pennies? Now we know how many you’d get on the 30th day of doubling: 536,870,912. Hmmm. That’s the same as $5,368,709.12. And that doesn’t count what you received on each of the other days!

Now which would you choose? A million dollars or a penny?

Meet the Author

DAVID SCHWARTZ is the author of 50 children's books, including G IS FOR GOOGOL and Q IS FOR QUARK. He is a frequent guest speaker at schools in the US abroad. He lives with his wife-and co-author-YAEL SCHY in Oakland, California.
Marissa Moss was an honors math student and the only girl on her school math team. She is the creator of the Amelia's Notebook Series, RACHEL'S JOURNAL, and REGINA'S BIG MISTAKE, among others. She lives in Berkeley, CA.

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