Friday, April 9, 2021

Math + Art > numbers

Here’s something you need to know about Sally (the inspiration for this blog): she was married to a math teacher and her three sons grew up to become math teachers. So I figure it’s only appropriate to include math stories every now and then. Here’s one that will hit the shelves in about 10 days (estimation is a useful math skill!).


Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers 
by Rajani LaRocca; illus. by Chaaya Prabhat 
32 pages; ages 3-6
Charlesbridge, 2021

theme: math, art, holidays

Bina had three big brothers: Vijay, Siddharth, and Arjun.

Like big brothers everywhere, they sometimes annoyed her – but Bina loves them anyway. So when the Hindu festival, Raksha Bandhan grows close, she decides to make her brothers some bracelets. They will be the perfect gift to celebrate the close relationship that ties them together as siblings. So Bina decides to buy beads to make the bracelets. Vijay loves blue but hates the color green. Siddharth loves green but can’t stand orange. And Arjun loves orange but is oh-so-tired of blue. 

What I like about this book: This story integrates math by using colors and patterns. With only enough money to buy the beads her brothers love, Bina has to figure out how to make bracelets that are fun and include more than one color. Rajani also includes Back Matter (yay!) with information about the festival and a math exploration activity.

I caught up with Rajani a couple weeks ago and asked her One Question:

me: What made you so passionate about math - and so passionate about sharing
it with young people through your books?

Rajani: I love that math truly is everywhere, that we use it all the time to solve everything from simple, everyday problems to incredibly complex ones. There is a beauty to math that fills me with wonder. I love writing books that, I hope, inspire young people to think about math with a sense of discovery and fun.

Beyond the Books:

Make some patterns using two colors of beads or blocks – or even splats of paint. Like Bina, you might do alternating colors (green-blue-green-blue). What other kinds of repeating patterns can you make using only two colors? Here’s one to get you started: green-blue-blue-green-blue-blue…

Instead of colors, what other ways can you create patterns? Use different senses. Create some patterns you can see (shape? French fries vertical or horizontal?). Create patterns you can hear (drum beats? notes?). Create patterns of texture (sandpaper-smooth? different textures of cloth?)

Rajani is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. In addition to practicing medicine, she writes award-winning fiction and nonfiction books for children. Some of her titles this year include: Red, White, and Whole, Much Ado About Baseball, and Where Three Oceans Meet – plus more on the way! Find out more about her and her books at her website, www.rajanilarocca.com

We’ll be joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.


Friday, March 19, 2021

Girls Can Too be knights!

I love sharing books written by friends. I met Terry around a decade ago at the Highlights children’s writers workshop in Chautauqua. We sat in on many of the same workshops, and talked STEM writing during lunches. So when she told me she was working on a chapter book series, I couldn’t wait to read it!

Definitely Dominguita: Knight of the Cape 
by Terry Catasus Jennings; illus. by Fatima Anaya
144 pages; ages 6-9
Aladdin, 2021

Dominguita Melendez is definitely a girl after my own heart. She loves to read, especially tales of adventure and chivalry in her grandmother’s books. So rather than playing, she spends her recess period reading Don Quijote.

So when the bully sneers that girls can’t be knights, Dominguita sets out to prove him wrong. After all, Joan of Arc was a knight. Right? 

With a helmet and cape and sense of justice, Dom sets off to seek adventure, even if that means helping people carry groceries along the way. She acquires a squire, aptly named Pancho Sanchez, and a trusty steed (of sorts), scrounges some armor and manages to convince a neighbor to knight her with his trusty sword.  Then she is definitely 100% ready for heroic adventures…

… which turn out a bit differently than expected. I don’t want to spoil the story, but let me just say lots of cookies are involved, Dom gains a crew of stout-hearted friends, and there is a real brave and true rescue.


This is a fun book that kicks off a new series about Dom and her friends. The stories are based on classic tales: Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers… I’m sure there will be more, as abuela had many tales to share.

Want a taste of the story? Visit Terry’s website and check out the trailer. She’s also got some book-related classroom activities. Then, head over to the GROG Blog for an interview with Terry.


Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

I'll be back with more books next month!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Sit. Read. Another Dog-gone Mystery


King & Kayla and the Case of the Gold Ring 
by Dori Hillestad Butler; illus. by Nancy Meyers 
48 pages; ages 7-9
Peachtree Publishing, 2021

The first page of this book – like the first page of all the others in the series – makes me smile. How can you not, when it begins:
Hello!
My name is King. I’m a dog. This is Kayla. She is my human.

It’s the sort of opening that makes you want to grab a mug of cocoa and snuggle into the couch pillows. 

The other thing that makes me smile? It’s how no matter what King and Kayla are doing, it’s the most fun thing in the world to do. And no matter what treats he’s offered, they are King’s favorites!

This book opens with a snowball fight, wet mittens, and snack time (marshmallows! King’s favorite!). Suddenly Asia realizes her gold ring is missing – a ring with a special link to her grandma. The game is afoot, and the friends retrace their steps. 

Kayla grabs a notebook and pencil. She jots down things they know. She scribbles a list of things they don’t know. While Kayla and her friends use detective logic, King has his own list of clues about where the shiny ring might have gone. (Crows like shiny things, he thinks.)

This is a fun book to read with a dog or by yourself. Check out my reviews of previous books in the series here and here. Review copy provided by the publisher.