In the last throes of the 14th century, Islamic Spain is under pressure from Castile and Aragon. Ara, the twelve-year old daughter to the Sultan, finds herself in the center of a political intrigue when her eunuch tutor is magically transformed by the evil Wazir. Can a little girl save her friend and tutor with the help of a Sufi mathemagician?
Intertwined in a mystery of math, art and magic, Ara races to find the seven broken symmetries before time runs out. Will she succeed or will the Alhambra fall and with it all that she loves?
And will the stone lions awaken in time to help her?
This cross-cultural fantasy combines mystery and math to teach the geometry of symmetry.
This project was supported by the NSF grant 9552462
|Publisher:||Hickory Tree Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.49(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We are proud to announce that THE STONE LIONS by Gwen Dandridge is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells a reader that this book is well worth their time and money!
Reviewed by Tania Staley for Readers' Favorite In Gwen Dandridge’s novel, The Stone Lions, history, mathematics, magic, and intrigue combine to create a fascinating read for preteens. Twelve year old Ara lives out her life under the watchful eye of Suleiman in the harem of her father’s palace, Alhambra. Ara’s life is far from unprivileged as a beloved daughter of the Sultan, but she dreams of greater challenges than those she has within the confines of the palace walls. When the Sufi mathemagician, Tahirah, whom her deceased mother once tutored under, arrives at the palace as a guest of honor, Ara sets her sights on learning all she can of the mystic magic of symmetry. Suleiman begrudgingly agrees to teach her, if only to keep her out of trouble, on the terms that she can find three examples of symmetry on her own. Her studies bring her more trouble than she could ever imagine when her explorations of the palace take her into the path of the dangerous wazir, her father’s adviser who has been acting very suspicious. When her actions cause Suleiman to fall under the wazir’s curse, Ara must save him by finding the symmetries of the palace that the wazir has corrupted. Time is running short, and the wazir continues to cause damage. Will Ara be able to stop the wazir in time? Author Gwen Dandridge's The Stone Lions is a rare blend of education and entertainment. She has woven lessons on symmetry throughout the story in a way that is quite seamless. These lessons would be helpful for any youth learning geometry and patterns. The book also includes valuable cultural lessons on Muslim heritage that would be beneficial for history classrooms. Students will hardly realize they are learning because the interesting plot. Ara is a strong, tenacious, female youth that readers can admire and look up to. I highly recommend The Stone Lions and I hope to read more from Gwen Dandridge.
Imaginative historical fantasy. Taking into account that this book is geared toward younger readers I still found it very entertaining. It melds history, religion, culture, magic into an intriguing storyline featuring straightforward representatives of good and evil that doesn't feature a lot of surprises but easily keeps your attention. The humour provided by the shape-shifting eunuch is an added bonus and I could almost picture those scenes brought to life in animation. An excellent book for its target audience.
Stone Lions is highly entertaining read, honestly more so than I expected. It has a great flow, interesting characters, a good amount of humor and action. Along the way it introduces some interesting magic, based on symmetries and mathematics which can protect or harm people. In a nut shell, the story follows the 'overly' curious daughter of the Sultan who stumbles on a plot to capture the legendary place of Alhambra. The action is firmly in the young girl’s hands since she can't expose the plot directly without admitting she was where she shouldn't be, outside the harem. To help her she recruits her best friend, her tutor (who happens to get turned into a medley of animals with some pretty funny results), mystic Sufi mathemagician and a pride of Stone Lions. Together they go up against an evil mathemagician, the Sultan’s chief adviser. The key to victory is that the girls must find increasingly difficult broken symmetries and fix them. Each symmetry must be found in half the amount of time they took to find the last one. This means there is a steady increase in tension throughout the book that rushes to a satisfying ending. One real stand out about the book was the way characters and the setting worked so well with each other. The author does a great job of involving the interesting little details of the palace and harem life without bogging down the story with too much description. It made me want to go to Alhambra to see its lions, water channels and tile patterns everywhere. Maybe even do some symmetry hunting while I'm at it. Along the same line characters seem well rooted in their time and place (something historic fiction can have trouble with). The author does a good job of bringing up serious matters (slavery, oppressive gender roles, etc...) and pointing out the unfairness for the modern reader but accepting them as a fact of life at the time. Again keeping the focus on the fun stuff; the action and intrigue. The one hesitation I did have is that I usually don't like books that make an overt effort to teach something. Through the course of this book the magic and consequently the symmetries are taught to the main characters in a series of lectures. At first, I was lukewarm to these segue into lecture time. However, as the symmetries become more advanced I found the lectures interesting; particularly in how things that at first don't appear alike can be, all that it takes is different way of thinking about them. A 12 year old Muslim girl in medieval Spain can have a lot in common with 12 year old living in Southern California.
How fun the world might be if mathemagic was possible! In The Stone Lions, Gwen Dandridge gives us a taste of a world where magic and mathematics work together to create strength. Twelve year old Ara, the strong-willed daughter of the Sultan, waits eagerly for the arrival of Tahirah, a Sufi mathemagician. Ara would give much to be able to study with Tahirah. But then Ara spies the Wazir, her father's most trusted advisor, performing a strange and secretive piece of magic. Along with the spilling of blood and a foul stench, the spell causes a portion of the palace wall to twist out of shape. When Ara and her best friend Layla are given a chance to study symmetry with Tahirah, they uncover an evil plot to bring down the Alhambra, the palace where Ara has grown up. Symmetry forms the basis of much of the architecture of the Alhambra, but evil magic has greatly weakened it. The girls, with the aid of their new tutor, begin a frantic race to find and mend the broken symmetries, hoping to save their home and their way of life--to say nothing of the old tutor, Suleiman, who has managed to get caught in the middle of all the intrigue. The author does a terrific job of bringing the exotic setting to life, sharing fascinating details of life in 15th century Spain. Her characters are appealing, the action builds, and there is much humor throughout. Stone Lions deftly melds the fun of magic with the intrigue of math to create an original middle-grade historical fantasy that is a pleasure to read.