Whatever Happened to the Metric System? by John Bemelmans Marciano


Whatever Happened to the Metric System?: How America Kept Its Feet by John Bemelmans Marciano (Bloomsbury, August 5, 2014) is a glimpse into the complicated history behind the rise of the metric system, especially the impact of the metric system on America. Why is America the only country in the world who has not converted to a base-ten system of measurement? Why are Americans resistant to the fact?

Marciano’s text only tries to answer those questions in the final chapter. The rest of the book provides an historical overview of the metric situation, from it’s birth in revolutionary France to the current status quo as the dominant measurement system of the world.Continue Reading

Shapes in Math, Science, and Nature by Catherine Sheldrick Ross

Sometimes when I finish a book that I loved I can’t wait to sit down and gush about how great it is. Other times, I love it but I just know I won’t be able to give it proper credit: I struggle to explain just why it is so incredible.

Shapes in Math, Science, and Nature by Catherine Sheldrick Ross (April 2014, Kids Can Press) is a book I struggle to describe. The title suggests something a little bit academic.

But it is far from simply a geometry book about shapes. Rather, Shapes in Math, Science, and Nature is a fascinating activity book for kids with activities and experiments that can get even the math and science averse excited about shapes. It covers not only the subjects indicated on the cover but also history, culture and anthropology, ancient games, and even a little bit of literature. Continue Reading

(Cybils 2012) Letters and Numbers

My time as a Cybils judge is quickly running out, but I still have many, many picture books to share with you. I will probably keep reviewing Cybils picture books in January, because I do want to give some of these books a fair share on my blog! Today I’m focusing on some of the books about letters and numbers.Continue Reading

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and classically illustrated by Jules Feiffer (1961) is a book for the clever reader. The book is full of wonderful wordplay, cliché, word stereotypes, and logic puzzles for a young child (and the adult!) to chuckle over and enjoy.

In the story, the young Milo is bored of school and of everything else in his life. He doesn’t want to play with his toys. He does want to learn anything. What’s the point of it all? As he ponders the existential meaning of his life, a gigantic magic tollbooth appears in his home, and he enters (why not? he doesn’t have anything better to do) a magically different world where words and numbers are very important, but meaning is tragically lacking. Using his wits and his courage, Milo, along with the help of a clever watchdog named Tock, comes to the rescue in finding meaning. I loved the emphasis on learning, the cleverness of the wordplay, and the delight that comes from the many colorful characters in his trip through Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. Milo becomes the hero of the everyman because he does the “impossible,” and who can’t help but love Tock the watchdog!Continue Reading