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Monday, April 19, 2010

Blockhead, written by Joseph D'Agnese and illustrated by John O'Brien. Henry Holt, H B Fenn. 2010. $19.99 ages 12 and up

"That's the way I am with numbers. I have loved them since I was very little.
Everywhere I looked in my parents' home, there was something to count."

Well, reading about a brilliant mathematician sure doesn't help me understand the math, but it gives me great perspective on the life of Fibonacci. In this picture book biography that introduces him to a younger audience, Joseph D'Agnese provides some historical details ('based on the few things we know - and a bit of make-believe') and a clear explanation of the number sequence this genius discovered in nature. If you can be funny about math, there is humor here. It is a book that anyone interested in mathematics will find useful and enlightening. Those who love math might find inspiration in the dogged determination that led to Fibonacci's ideas about the patterns he was seeing.

I am intrigued by the information that can be shared in picture book biographies. Even young readers have access to the life and times of so many important people in accessible text that is partnered with illustrations that makes the understanding more clear. John O'Brien takes us back to medieval times with his artwork and uses the swirls, spirals and patterns that so inspired 'Blockhead' to work diligently toward new discoveries.

There is a 'can you find...' section at the end of the book that will encourage its readers to look back to find what may have been missed. There are also other suggestions for checking out the reliability of the sequence in a child's world.

"There was a man who put two baby rabbits in a field. It takes rabbits one month to grow up and be ready to have babies. And it takes them one more month to give birth to a pair of baby rabbits.
Every month a pair of grown-up rabbits gives birth to a new pair of baby rabbits.
How many pairs of rabbits will the man have at the end of a year?"

I could give you the answer but won't it be more fun to use Fibonacci's sequence to figure it out for yourself?

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