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Posted February 28, 2014
Posted May 12, 2012
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.
Posted October 15, 2013
No text was provided for this review.