Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math Adventure

Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math Adventure

4.0 3
by Julie Ellis

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Julie Ellis and Phyllis Hornung Peacock team up once again to explore Pythagorean ratios in this humorous sequel to WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE, PYTHAGORAS?

Pythagoras and his cousins want to win a music contest, but first they must figure out how to play their instruments in tune, something that's never been done before.
While trying to fix the problem, Pythagoras


Julie Ellis and Phyllis Hornung Peacock team up once again to explore Pythagorean ratios in this humorous sequel to WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE, PYTHAGORAS?

Pythagoras and his cousins want to win a music contest, but first they must figure out how to play their instruments in tune, something that's never been done before.
While trying to fix the problem, Pythagoras makes an important discovery—notes that sound pleasant together have a certain mathematical relationship. When Pythagoras applies this ratio to his cousins' pipes and lyres, the result is music to the ears.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—This picture-book introduction to ratio and proportion also explains the connection between math and music through a story featuring young Pythagoras and his family. Preoccupied by mathematical problems, the protagonist is constantly in trouble with his parents for neglecting his chores. When his cousin Octavius offends everyone's ears with the dissonant pipes he is practicing for an upcoming music contest, the young mathematician hears a challenge. He measures his own set of melodious pipes, calculating the ratio of each pipe to the shortest one, and discovers that Octavius's pipes need to be shortened. Later, he tunes other cousins' lyres by attaching rocks to the strings to adjust the tension. With all the instruments finally ready, the cousins play together at the contest. Unfinished chores and a broken set of pipes leave Pythagoras out of the performance, but the end result is the first "rock" group, which is a big success. The story is amusing and offers a glimpse into life in ancient Greece. Acrylic and colored pencil cartoons depict the clothing and lifestyle of the period in a pleasing palette. A historical note and an experiment in which readers are challenged to use Pythagorean ratios to create a musical instrument with six glasses of water in varying amounts are appended.—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
In ancient Greece, a young musician makes exciting discoveries. The boy Pythagoras, brimming with curiosity, steps up to help when his friend Octavius might be unable to compete in an upcoming musical contest. The problem is an awful noise coming from Octavius's new pipes. With a stylus, clay tablet, measuring cord and his sharp wits, mathematician-to-be Pythagoras figures out the relationship between pipe length and resultant sound and helps fashion a perfectly pitched set of pipes for Octavius. The lyres of his friends Amara and Reyna provide a more difficult challenge, one that Pythagoras solves (in a race against the clock) with scales and tiny rocks. He does it so successfully that he and his friends form Pythagoras and the Ratios...the first rock group! The book's educational aspects are fascinating-both the text and the acrylic-and-colored-pencil illustrations bring these to life-but it's flat-footed on the story's narrative aspects, both visually and textually. Helpful addenda provide interesting information on Pythagoras and the application of his ratios to music. (Picture book. 7-10)
Children's Literature - Sara Rofofsky Marcus
In this charming fictional tale about Pythagoras, founder of the Pythagoras theorem, readers encounter young Pythagoras in ancient Greece as he finishes an experiment and runs to help his older cousin, Octavius. Pythagoras helps Octavius and two other cousins improve their instruments which makes them more pleasing to the ear, resulting in the family winning the annual music contest. While helping his cousins, Pythagoras skips his chores at home, making his parents angry. Pythagoras's cousins help him to complete his chores time and again so that Pythagoras can help with their musical instruments. Throughout this story of friendship, helping, teamwork, and music, readers also learn about math, ratios and measuring. The final page of the book includes a historical note, directions for making an instrument using Pythagorean Ratios, and a brief discussion of tuning modern instruments. This book ties in well with both music and math lessons, and will suit even higher level classes as way to tie in literature to the materials being learned. The illustrator has also worked on other mathematic-related picture books for children, including A Place for Zero and What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? Reviewer: Sara Rofofsky Marcus

Product Details

Publication date:
Math Adventures Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.20(d)
AD680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Julie Ellis is the author of many books for children, including WHAT'S YOUR ANGLE, PYTHAGORAS, which she wrote as a way to show her daughter the uses of the Pythagorean Theorem. She lives in New Zealand.

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Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math Adventure 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love hearing my 4 year old talk about Pythagoras after reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
socraticparenting More than 1 year ago
Pythagoras and the Ratios by Julie Ellis carries young mathematicians and musicians back to Ancient Greece where an ever-curious Pythagoras enjoys solving problems so much that he often forgets to finish his chores. Young Pythagoras helps his cousin Octavius tune his new pipes by comparing them to his own and realizing that because they are twice as wide, they also need to be twice as long. Using the same ratios, he ties rocks of varying weight to the lyres of Reyna and Amara so that all of the cousins can play their instruments together for the first time in history. The book is one of 19 in the Charlesbridge Math Adventures Series and does an excellent job of explaining the mathematical and musical principles of string and woodwind instruments. Ellis includes an historical note and some additional math and music explanations at the end to help the reader separate fact from fiction and make an “instrument” using six identical glasses containing various levels of water. Phyllis Hornung Peacock’s warm cartoon illustrations, created in acrylic and water color pencil on cold-press watercolor paper, delightfully depict the general landscape and dress of Ancient Greece. Although the story and dialogue are entirely fictitious, the introduction of Pythagoras as a mathematician is sound. The in-depth explanation of ratios, including diagrams and charts that correspond directly with the story, crystallize the concepts simply for students in grades 3-6. Issues of responsibility and working cooperatively are nicely interwoven into the story, which ends on a humorous note. Ellis strikes a nice balance of fun and education in this charming picture book. Laurie A. Gray Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIV, No. 4, August 2010); used with permission.