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Saturday, November 12, 2011

For All Those Math and Science Fans Out There.....Big and Small

A Gebra Named Al by Wendy Isdell

The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker

A Gebra Named Al: A NovelSurprisingly, Wendy Isdell wrote her book when she was in eighth grade!  My son and I loved this book.  It's a little bit like Alice in Wonderland except it's Julie in Mathland and the creatures are more helpful.  Julie is transported to a land of math and science (after having a frustrating time doing algebra problems).  On her quest to return home, AL the GEBRA (algebra) and his friends the Periodicals (horses with characteristics of the element they are named after) introduce Julie to the Land of Mathematics.  On the way Julie learns about isotopes, travels through the Order of Operations, and eats fruit shaped like Bohr's model of the atom.  This cute book gives accurate information about science and math concepts.  It's a very pleasurable read.

Mystery Of The Periodic Table     Benjamin Wicker's book is outstanding.  He explains the chemistry behind atoms, elements, and the periodic table so well.  A middle school student could easily read this book independently and understand the concepts and ideas Wicker explains.  Yet, the information is not a dumbed-down presentation, it's powerful concepts illustrated with pictures and words in a way that is easy to understand.  Wicker also keeps the book very interesting throughout by linking the different discoveries together, talking about the personal side of some of these scientist, and asking readers questions directly to make a point and to make them think.  The periodic table is a thing of awesome beauty, and we should all know how it came about and how perfectly the elements in nature fit together.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  It seems any book published by Bethlehem Books is a winner (though this book is not religious).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Had a Ball Reading Bellfield Hall

Bellfield Hall: Or, the Observations of Miss Dido Kent  by Anna Dean

     I really liked this book!!  I could sum it up most simply by saying it is a Jane Austenesque mystery.  To sum it up with a little more detail, I would tell you this mystery is written in 3rd person with glimpses into Miss Dido's thoughts by the letters she sends to her sister.  I really liked getting a peek into her thoughts through the letters interspersed throughout the narrative.  Catherine Kent, sends for her spinster Aunt Dido to help find out why Catherine's fiance vanished from their announcement ball.  Shortly after Miss Dido arrives, a body is found on the estate's grounds.  Dido has many mysteries to unravel while at Bellfield not the least being the identity of the deceased.  This was a delightful book.  Anyone who likes mysteries (especially heady mysteries rather than blood and gore) and fans of Jane Austen will love this book!!  I can't wait to read the second in the series, A Gentleman of Fortune: Or, the Suspicions of Miss Dido Kent.

Bad Title for a Good Book?

Is God a Mathematician? by Mario Livio

Is God a Mathematician?     I enjoyed this book, though it was not the book I thought it would be.  Mario Livio tackles the question whether humans discovered or invented mathematics by tracing the history of mathematics from Pythagerous (ca.597-472 BC) to near present day.  It is an incredible trip with Livio's excellent summarizations, connections, and explanations.  I found it fascinating to learn how certain concepts came about, which mathematicians agreed and disagreed, and how religiously some people took mathematics.  In the last chapter, Livio takes the evidence from the history of mathematics and adds his own opinion on the debate between discovery and invention.  He ends with the indecisive explanation that it is some of both.  Well, I guess if that's how you really feel.  I was looking for something a little more definitive after going through the book, but the history lesson was worth the wishy-washy stance at the end.