Brian P. Cleary is the author of the Words Are CATegorical(R), Math Is CATegorical(R), Food Is CATegorical(TM), and Animal Groups Are CATegorical(TM) series, as well as several picture books. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Brian Gable is the illustrator of many of the best-selling Words Are CATegorical(R) books, as well as the Math Is CATegorical(R) series. Mr. Gable lives in Toronto, Canada.
Windows, Rings, and Grapes: A Look at Different Shapes defines and provides examples of five geometric shapes: the circle, triangle, square, rectangle, and oval. Each page includes whimsical illustrations of animals and monsters engaging with the shapes and a few sentences of narrative written in rhyme (e.g., 'A circle is round like the dot on this gown'). As each shape is introduced, defining properties are identified--although sometimes lacking in mathematical precision. For example, while it is true that a rectangle has 'two sides smaller' and the 'other two taller' (or at least longer), those properties by themselves are not sufficient to distinguish the rectangle from its four-sided cousins, such as the kite. A more precise definition of each shape appears on the last two pages of the book, providing, in essence, a mathematical glossary and a helpful review. Interestingly, the oval and the rectangle are introduced as transformations of the circle and square, respectively. Thinking about how shapes relate to one another adds mathematical interest and sophistication over a mere cataloging of shapes in isolation from one another. Overall, the book offers a visually appealing and engaging introduction to five simple shapes. The illustrations are outstanding, and the narrative is fine--fun, but sometimes clumsy. The mathematical precision could be higher, even for such a young target audience, but is adequate. This book is a useful resource and could serve as an effective teaching tool, especially if coupled with good questions that probe and extend children's thinking. --Science Books & Films-- "Journal" (10/1/2010 12:00:00 AM)